Members of Congress aren't immune from rising student debt.
According to new figures from OpenSecrets.org, which tracks money in politics, 47 lawmakers on the Hill had student loans in 2013, up from 41 members the year before.
Reps. James Bridenstine (R-Okla.), John Carter (R-Texas), Tom Rooney (R-Fla.), John Conyers (D-Mich.), Grace Meng (D-N.Y) and Raul Ruiz (D-Calif.) reportedly owe the most debt, with an average of around $170,000.
The total amount of debt held by all 47 falls anywhere between $1.8 million and $4.6 million. The year before, it was somewhere between $1.5 million and $3.8 million. We don't know an exact amount because members of Congress are allowed to list assets and liabilities very broadly. Welcome to transparency in politics!
To put those numbers in context, though, here are five things Open Secrets can reveal about student loans in Congress:
- Just 8 percent of members of Congress have student debt compared to 13 percent of the general population.
- The lawmakers have an average student debt of $68,500 while the average American has loans in the range of $27,000. This makes sense because members of Congress are disproportionately likely to hold graduate degrees in expensive fields like law.
- Republican lawmakers are more likely than Democrats to have student loans. 28 members of the GOP claim to have student debt while just 19 Democrats say the same.
- Just three senators have student debt — Mike Lee (R-Utah), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) — while the other 44 lawmakers with student debt are representatives in the House.
- It's unclear exactly who exactly holds the debt each member listed (see: broad listing of liabilities and assets), so some of the student debt was taken out to pay for the education of children and spouses.
Emily DeRuy is a Washington, D.C.-based associate editor, covering education, reproductive rights, and inequality. A San Francisco native, she enjoys Giants baseball and misses Philz terribly.