WASHINGTON – The 115th Congress scored as one of the richest ever, but one in 10 lawmakers still hold student loan debt, either personally or for a family member.
Fifty-three members listed a combined $1.8 million in student loans on their financial disclosures. Twenty-eight of them posted a positive net worth while 25 showed negative net worth in Roll Call’s comprehensive Wealth of Congress project.
“I still owe $75,000 and understand the great responsibility of repayment,” said Rep. Darren Soto, D-Fla., who attended law school at George Washington University. “I value education and believe having the ability to attend a top law school was an essential part of my success.”
Twenty-eight Republicans hold student loans compared with 25 Democratic colleagues. Despite fewer debtors, Democrats paid more overall for school, with their student loan liabilities totaling more than $1 million to the Republicans’ $830,000. Sixteen with student loan debt are in their first term.
House members with student loan debt exceed Senate members. Three senators cataloged student loans. However, a formatting difference between the two chambers’ financial disclosures gives more insight into the duration of senators’ loans.
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., a graduate of the University of Connecticut Law School, recorded student loans set to term out by 2027 and 2028, while Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., will likely be on the hook until 2031 after attending the University of Colorado Boulder Law. Both will be in their mid-50s when the debts are repaid.
Six members have more than $100,000 in student loan liabilities. At the top of that list is outgoing House Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C. He listed more than $150,000 for a dependent child’s education starting August 2015. Rep. John Carter, R-Texas, has paid for student loans the longest. He owes more than $100,000 on loans incurred in 1988.
Others are responsible for many years of advanced degrees. Rep. Raul Ruiz, D-Calif., received an M.D. and two master’s degrees in the 2000s from Harvard University. Ruiz is paying for at least $100,000 in debt. His wife, Monica Rivers, an emergency-medicine nurse also incurred student loans, bringing their educational debts to more than $115,000.
Ten members of Congress ranked as millionaires even with educational liabilities. Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., listed $50,000 in student loans, next to an estimated $28 million in family holdings.
The same is true for Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III, D-Mass. Twenty-five thousand dollars in his spouse’s student loans pales next to his trust fund of more than $19 million.
Student loans have driven some members into the red. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., posted no assets with a dollar value, while a single student loan liability put her in negative net worth territory. And Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., has more than $50,000 owed to Ed Financial after receiving a law degree from the University of Maryland, giving him -$53,999 in net holdings.