Hey college students! Guess which U.S. Sen. candidates have college loans?

U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy, the 5th District Democrat, does.

Murphy mentioned he and his wife are still paying off their college loans today during a press event in Hartford urging his fellow federal lawmakers to unite to prevent a July 1 hike in Stafford loan interest rates.

So I reached out to his two major rivals for the nomination – ex-Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz and state Rep. William Tong, D-Stamford – plus GOP Senate contenders Linda McMahon and former U.S. Rep. Chris Shays.

Of that group, Tong’s camp said he and his wife are also still paying off their loans.

And although Shays and wife Betsi are not in a similar situation, their daughter, Jeramy, is paying off her graduate school debts, according to Shays’ campaign.

Of the five major Senate candidates, Shays was the only one who voiced reservations, alluding to the costs. Some say the extension will be a $6 billion hit to the federal budget. 

“I support the program. In fact I voted for it in 2007,” Shays wrote in an email. “But I do not think Congress should be voting on any spending bills that add to our annual trillion dollar deficit until both the House and Senate pass a budget.  The House Majority passed its budget last week, but it’s been 1,070 days since the Senate fulfilled its responsibility to pass a budget.”

Here’s what Bysiewicz, McMahon and Tong had to say:

Susan supports extending the reduced interest rate for Stafford loans. To ensure our economy can improve and that students are able to compete in a global economy they must have access to an affordable college education. The federal government should ensure that students have an option to receive low interest loans so they do not fall prey to individuals and institutions that would profit from their need to have advanced education,” said Jonathan Ducote, Bysiewicz’ campaign manager.

“Linda wholeheartedly supports extending reduced student loan interest rates. Making access to an affordable education is a top priority for Linda which is why she proposes greater tax deductions on student loans and qualified higher education expenses for all families in her jobs plan,” said Erin Isaac, McMahon’s communications director.

“Protecting the quality of our workforce is the most important investment our country can make to grow our economy.  Allowing Federal Direct Stafford Loan rates to nearly double is shortsighted and foolish and when elected to the U.S. Senate I will do everything in my power to hold interest rates down and expand our Federal Student loan programs,” said Tong.


Brian Lockhart