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Elizabeth Warren Hosts Student Debt Forum At UMass Boston

BOSTON (CBS) - Senator Elizabeth Warren says she first raised a bill to reduce the interest rate on student loans about a year ago.

Since then, she says students have gone into debt to the tune of $100 billion, paying rates like 6 or 10 percent and sometimes more.

Warren (D-Mass.) told WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Karen Twomey that this is a middle class problem.

"This is about the kids who weren't born into the families where mom and dad could just write a check out of petty cash," she said.

"These are kids who have worked hard, who played by the rules who've gotten into good schools."

The senator says this is directly affecting the economy because these students are graduating so hampered by debt that they can't buy homes or make other investments.

Representative Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) and Warren will be having several events as part of their "Middle Class Prosperity Project" featuring prominent economists, according to a Huffington Post report.

The democratic pair hosted a forum on the high cost of a college education and the student debt crisis at the University of Massachusetts Boston at 2 p.m. Thursday in the Campus Center Ballroom.

One student at the forum said he has about $30,000 to $40,000 in student loans, while a fellow student said she has $60,000 in unsubsidized loans as well as $20,000 in subsidized ones.

"Higher education is a hundred times higher than it was when I went to school," Cummings told WBZ's Jon Keller.

"For me this is very personal," Warren told WBZ. "I graduated from a commuter college that cost $50 a semester.

"These state schools...many of them doing anything they can to keep costs under control but if the family has to pick up a much larger share then that's experienced as rising tuition."

Tuition costs have risen 559 percent over the past 30 years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Keller reports that neither Warren or Cummings would commit to backing President Obama's push for more financial accountability from academia.

"Public education shouldn't be costing us $20,000 a year," said Brina Lemrise, a senior at UMass Boston.

"Education is the one thing I feel that all politicians always say they care about and yet it's never shown in legislation," added Joshua DeCosta, a junior at UMass.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Karen Twomey reports:

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