Tester sides with Montana students, Rehberg votes against them

Before calling Pell Grants “welfare,” Congressman voted for largest student loan cuts in history & increased interest rates

BILLINGS, Mont. – As Jon Tester pushes for a responsible proposal to prevent student loan interest rates from rising, multimillionaire Congressman Dennis Rehberg is stuck with a painful record of voting against Montana’s college students.

In 2005 Rehberg supported cutting student loans by nearly $13 billion–the largest cut to student loans in history. Months later Rehberg supported gutting student loans by $13 billion again, giving the cut enough votes to become law. [Vote 670, 12/19/05; HRS 653, Vote 4, 2/01/06; S 1932]

In 2011, after supporting significant cuts to Pell Grants, Rehberg famously called them the “welfare of the 21st Century.”

This year nearly 25,000 Montana students could face a doubled interest rate of 6.8% on Stafford student loans beginning July 1 if Congress doesn’t act. That’s why Jon Tester supports extening the lower interest rates without adding to the national debt.

Tester, a former elementary school teacher, says access to higher education is vital to economic growth.

“Multimillionaire Congressman Dennis Rehberg has tried multiple times to hike interest rates on students and choke off access to the financial aid they depend on to go to college,” said Montanans for Tester spokesman Aaron Murphy. “As a teacher, Jon knows a solid education is critical to growing our economy and creating jobs. Congressman Rehberg calls that ‘welfare.’”

A recent Billings Gazette story highlighted Tester’s personal experience with student loans:

“Tester, who worked in college and had financial help from his parents, said that while he was able to graduate from college in the 1970s without student loans, his two children had to take out loans for their education. His son, who graduated in 2004, has student loans. His daughter, a 1998 nursing school graduate, had help paying off some of her loans from her employer.” [Billings Gazette, 4/26/2012]