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Taylor proposes fixed 1 percent interest rate for student loans

FARGO -- North Dakota agriculture commissioner candidate Ryan Taylor proposed a fixed 1 percent interest rate for student loans at a news conference Thursday.

FARGO - North Dakota agriculture commissioner candidate Ryan Taylor proposed a fixed 1 percent interest rate for student loans at a news conference Thursday.
Under the current consolidated loan program at the Bank of North Dakota, students have the option of a fixed interest rate of 5.29 percent or a variable rate of 1.73 percent.
Taylor estimates that changing the program to a fixed 1 percent, for both new and consolidated loans, would save graduates $6 million over the first 10 years.
The state agriculture commissioner is one of the three members of the North Dakota Industrial Commission, which oversees the Bank of North Dakota, a primary lender of student loans. The governor and attorney general are the other Industrial Commission members.
Taylor’s proposal follows a plan announced by state Sen. George Sinner in August to cap interest rates at 2 percent for unsubsidized federal student loans and 3 percent for subsidized. Sinner, a Democrat, is running against incumbent Kevin Cramer for the U.S. House.
Taylor is running against incumbent Republican Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring.
On Thursday, Taylor emphasized that North Dakota should invest not only in “hard assets,” but also in “intellectual infrastructure.”
He said reducing student loan interest would draw students to trade schools and four-year colleges, and that would mean more workers for North Dakota.
It’s a plan that could turn North Dakota’s “one-time harvest,” he said, meaning the oil boom, into a “lasting harvest.”
“How do we ensure that our No. 1 economy of today can also be the No. 1 economy of tomorrow?” he said. “I think we do it through the graduates we produce.”
Taylor stressed that the proposal wouldn’t be giving away money to students, but was merely “an opportunity to give them a break on the interest cost.”
There are two ways the proposal could be passed if Taylor is elected.
He could propose the change directly through the Industrial Commission, he said. The proposal could also be pursued in the Legislature, and Taylor said that would have to be the case if the State Bank wanted statutory authority.

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