Statement of AUCD President Tony Antosh on Impact of Increasing Student Loan Interest Rates

May 8, 2012

As an organization representing members at universities across the nation, the Association of University Centers on Disabilities is deeply concerned about the impact that doubling student loan interest rates would have on America's students. Our network's student trainees encompass a wide array of disciplines, including developmental pediatrics, psychology, physical and occupational therapy and speech-language pathology. Many of these students rely on federal student loans to finance their education, and with the tough economic climate, they are looking to Congress to ensure that they don't have to bear even more student debt.

However, AUCD is also very concerned about attempts to pay for interest rate reductions by repealing the Prevention and Public Health Fund created by the Affordable Care Act. The Prevention Fund was created to provide new funding for transformational investments to promote wellness, prevent disease, and help people manage conditions before they become severe or result in disability.

The Prevention Fund is the first federal funding source dedicated to public health and prevention. This year, it will invest $1 billion in states and local communities to move forward on proven, effective ways to keep Americans healthier and more productive. Fund dollars are already being used to promote healthy eating and active living, reduce tobacco use, improve prevention services in low-income and underserved communities, fight infectious diseases and more.

Because people with disabilities are at a higher risk for preventable health conditions, secondary conditions and chronic illness, they stand to benefit greatly from initiatives financed by the Prevention Fund. Reducing the burden on student borrowers and investing in the health of the nation are both important priorities. It makes little sense to pit these interests against each other and use one to pay for the other.

AUCD looks to Congress to find a responsible way to pay for student loan interest rate reductions while preserving important investments in prevention and public health.