Candidates—they're just like us!
Today, Florida Senator Marco Rubio announced he is running for president. Rubio, 43, had what many might call a typical American experience: His parents were immigrants, and he had dreams of playing professional sports. (In this case, football, and he did actually get a scholarship.)
And, arguably, this: he had to take out more than $100,000 in student debt to pay for his education, and it took him 16 years and a book deal to pay off.
He revealed this in a 2012 speech.
"To me college affordability is an issue that is very personal," he said as he accepted an award from former congressman Jack Kemp's foundation, "because the only reason why I was able to go to college—the only reason—was because of federal grants and loans. When I graduated from law school, I had close to $150,000 in student debt," he said after accepting the award. That's a debt I just paid off just last year with the proceeds of my book 'An American Son,' the perfect holiday gift and available on Amazon for only $11.99."
Rubio graduated from the University of Florida in 1993, and earned his J.D. from the University of Miami in 1996.
Rubio was one of 46 members of Congress reportedly still paying down student loans, according to a 2013 report. In 2012, Rubio and Sen. Mark Warner introduced the Dynamic Student Loan Repayment Act. It was supposed to set up a program allowing federal student loan borrowers to only have to pay 10 percent of their earnings each month, with a $10,000 annual exemption. The deductions would be taken out automatically from your paycheck.
"We both remember months when our paychecks were low and we weren’t sure if we could make our payments," the senators said in their statement announcing the proposal. "Each of us has heard from constituents affected by crippling student debt. Our Dynamic Student Loan Repayment Act will provide an additional tool to help borrowers meet their obligations, and this must be part of a broader conversation about how to make higher education more affordable.”
But the bill died in the Senate. Sen. Warner's office did not immediately respond to an inquiry about whether he plans to reintroduce the legislation.
Rubio just published another book, American Dreams, in which he criticizes the higher education industry as an entrenched monopoly that is able to drive up prices because of there is now an “open spigot of federal student loans flowing into colleges and universities" that has become a de facto "cost-free government subsidy.”
Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.