CONCORD – Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s campaign went up with a new television ad on Sunday that focuses on what the campaign calls Shaheen’s work to lower college costs for New Hampshire students.
In the ad, she calls for passage of legislation allowing students to refinance their college loans in the same way, she says, that people can refinance a car or a mortgage.
Click here to view the Shaheen ad.
Following up on the ad, the New Hampshire Democratic Party went on the offensive against Republican U.S. Senate candidate Scott Brown, noting that in March 2011 he voted for a GOP continuing resolution that called for $5.7 billion in cuts for student Pell Grants. The bill was defeated.
State Democratic Party chairman Raymond Buckley wrote in an open memo:
“In 2011, Brown sided with the corporate special interests that fund his campaign instead of the more than 21,000 New Hampshire students who depended on Pell grants to afford the cost of college. Rather than ask billionaires to pay their fair share or close loopholes for companies that ship jobs overseas, Brown tried to slash Pell grants by more than $700 per student.”
The Brown campaign responded by pointing out that that last month, Brown released a “white paper” on reducing college education costs, which he said followed “the Senate’s failure to agree on legislation that would assist our young people in college and after they graduate.”
He said the plan “can earn the support of people on both sides of the political aisle.”
The plan calls for limiting federal student aid programs to only those college and universities where tuitions do not exceed the annual rate of inflation and capping student loans at market rates so that the government does not profit on such loans.
Brown touches on the refinancing issue in the white paper by writing that “borrowers should have the ability to consolidate and refinance their student loans at market rates to take advantage of today’s low interest rates.”
Like previous Shaheen campaign ads, the new one focuses on work the incumbent Democrat has done in the state. Prior ads focused on state projects, such as the widening of Interstate 93 and the new Jobs Corps Center in Manchester, as well as and helping a Granite Stater refinance her mortgage.
That’s a different approach than Shaheen’s opponents, who are attempting in television ads to focus on national issues, such as Shaheen’s support for the Affordable Care Act and her overall support for President Barack Obama’s agenda.
This week’s ad is the first in which Shaheen speaks directly into the camera, to the voters.
In a statement accompanying release of the ad, Shaheen campaign manager Mike Vlacich said, “Jeanne Shaheen has deep roots in New Hampshire. She raised her family here and her record proves she shares our values. She understands the importance of education to our kids and their future.
“That’s why as Governor she expanded public kindergarten and created a tax free tuition savings program, and why as Senator she’s introduced new legislation to lower the cost of college loans.”
The campaign said Shaheen was an original cosponsor of the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinance Act that would allow students to refinance their loans at lower interest rates.
“While the legislation was blocked by congressional gridlock and a Republican filibuster, it would have helped 25 million borrowers across the country save thousands of dollars on their loan payments,” the campaign said. “Individuals with older loans at higher interest rates would be able to refinance at rates below 4 percent.”
The Shaheen campaign said New Hampshire college graduates leave school with an average of $33,000 in student loan debt, the second highest rate of debt in the country.
“Over half of the more than 200,000 Granite Staters with federally backed student loans would benefit from Senator Shaheen’s legislation,” the campaign said.
Buckley of the NHDP called on Brown to state his position on the “Bank on Students” bill. The Brown campaign would not specifically say how he feels about that particular bill, but referred instead to his white paper on “creating opportunities and reducing the high cost of a college education” and its mention of college loan refinancing.