Congressman Katko Hosts Student Loan Roundtable Discussion with Higher Education Institutions, CNY Students

Katko Backs Legislation to Allow Increased Financing of Student Loans, Restore Bankruptcy Rights to Student Loan Borrowers, Expand Pell Grants

Syracuse, NY – Joined today at Onondaga Community College by students and administrators from both public and private higher education institutions from across the 24th Congressional District, U.S. Representative John Katko (NY-24) hosted a roundtable discussion on making college more affordable and addressing the crushing burden of student debt.

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, student loan debt in the United States currently totals 1.2 trillion dollars and has become the largest form of consumer debt other than mortgages.

“Student loan debt is dragging down economic growth and keeping the American Dream out of reach for many young people.  In this economy, new graduates are faced with many difficulties as they transition out of college and enter the workforce – and student loan debt is at the top of that list,” said U.S. Representative John Katko at today’s roundtable. “While this problem will not be solved overnight, it is vital that we engage students and higher education institutions to explore potential solutions so that higher education can remain accessible to students from all backgrounds.  I’m thankful for all of the students and administrators from around Central New York who have joined us today, and I’ll take what I’ve learned from our conversation to Washington.”

In Congress, Representative Katko has cosponsored legislation to address the student loan crisis program by allowing increased refinancing of federal student loans, restoring bankruptcy rights to student loan borrowers, and expanding Pell Grants.

“Addressing the high cost of college and the crushing burden of student loan debt requires innovative, thoughtful changes in policy and in student loan borrowing,” continued Congressman Katko.  “In Congress, I’ve focused on three areas where I think we can come together in a bipartisan manner to make borrowing simpler and more manageable for students.  First, student loan debt is uniquely difficult to discharge in cases of bankruptcy and personal hardship. Second, recent graduates are currently unable to refinance their student loans more than once.  Finally, Pell Grants are currently only available to students during the Fall and Spring semesters, and unavailable to students who are working to complete their postsecondary education more quickly by taking courses during Summer semesters.  Making changes in each of these areas will help reduce the heavy debt burden on students.”

Specifically, Representative Katko has cosponsored:

  • R. 499, the Discharge Student Loans in Bankruptcy Act, which effectively restores bankruptcy rights to student loan borrowers.  Unlike credit card, auto loan, or mortgage debt, student loan debt currently cannot be discharged in bankruptcy.
  • R. 649, the Student Loan Refinancing Act, which would allow individuals to refinance their federal student loans (Direct Loans, Direct PLUS Loans, and Direct Consolidation Loans) more than once.  Doing so would enable borrowers to take advantage of lower interest rates during more favorable economic conditions.  Moreover, refinanced rates would be fixed, protecting them from interest rate hikes when economic conditions worsen.
  • R. 3180, Flexible Pell Grants for 21st Century Students Act, expanding the eligibility window for Pell Grants so that students may take advantage of them during summer months.  These grants are currently only available for qualifying students during the Fall and Spring semesters.  Expanding this program would allow students to complete a postsecondary education more quickly and at a lower cost.

Representative Katko was joined for today’s conversation by students and administrators from Le Moyne College, Wells College, SUNY Oswego, SUNY ESF, Onondaga Community College and Cayuga Community College.

Congressman John Katko represents the 24th Congressional District, which includes all of Onondaga, Cayuga, and Wayne Counties and the Western portion of Oswego County.  For more information, please visit or