Lawmakers (some of them) have student loans too

(MoneyWatch) Among the millions of Americans who are still paying off college loan debt are 46 members of Congress, who owe somewhere between $1.8 million and $4.3 million.

Five U.S. senators and 41 members of the House of Representatives are paying off student loans, according to an investigation by the Center for Responsive Politics, which is a nonpartisan research group that tracks money in U.S. politics and its effect on elections and public policy. The amounts are given in ranges because lawmakers only must divulge such broad indications of their finances.

The lawmaker who owes the most money -- somewhere between $155,001 and $300,000 is freshman Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-CA), a physician who has earned three degrees after getting his bachelor's degree from UCLA.  Ruiz, who beat Republican Mary Bono, the widow of Sonny Bono, in the November general election, has a medical degree and two other graduate degrees from Harvard University.

Much of the borrowing appears to be for the politicians' own college education though some of the debt is for spouses or children.

Top 10 student loan debtors in Congress

In Congress, all of the biggest borrowers are representatives:

  • Rep. Raul Ruiz (D) $115,002 - $300,000
  • Rep. James Bridenstine (R) $100,001 - $250,000
  • Rep. John Carter (R) $100,001 - $250,000
  • Rep. Grace Meng (D) $100,001 - $250,000
  • Rep. Tom Rooney (R) $100,001 - $250,000
  • Rep. Kevin Yoder (R) $80,003 - $200,000
  • Rep. Louis B. Gohmert Jr. (R) $70,001 - $130,000
  • Rep. Pedro Pierluisi (D) $65,002 - $150,000
  • Rep. Tom McClintock (R) $60,001 - $115,000
  • Rep. Gerry Connolly (D) $55,003 - $165,000

5 U.S. senators who owe student debt

  • Mike Lee (R) $10,000 - $15,000
  • Angus King (I) $15,001 - $50,000
  • Elizabeth Warren (D) $15,001 - $50,000
  • Christopher Murphy (D) $15,001 - $50,000 (And same debt range for his wife)
  • Tammy Duckworth (D) $50,001 - $100,000

Congress and student debt

It's a good development for the country that some members of Congress, who as a whole are wealthier than most Americans, are repaying student debt. Two new senators -- Elizabeth Warren and Christopher Murphy -- will serve on the Senate Education Committee, which last year had no student debtors on the panel.

With more firsthand experience repaying student debt, Congress may be more likely to look favorably at remedies that address the growing student debt level that now exceeds credit cards.

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