Over the last several years, a problem that an increasing number of students have had to deal with is paying off suffocating student loans, that can easily reach hundreds of thousands of dollars by the time a student is entirely through college. Added on is the interest payments, which can sometimes dramatically increase the cost of attending college. The interest payments for federal loans were set to double by July 1. At BC, that would affect 21 percent of students who currently receive federal financial aid.
The prior interest rate was 3.4 percent, a rate set to expire on July 1. This low rate came from a bill signed by President Bush that gave a lowered rate to Subsidized Stafford Loans – when this bill expires, federal loans ceased being subsidized and jumped back up to their natural interest rate – 6.8 percent. Associate director of financial aid at Western Washington University, Jim DeWilde, said that this could add as much as ten years on the average time it takes a student to repay the loan.
Ever since the release of the information, it has been under debate in Congress as they try to find a compromise to please the colleges and the students who would see their loans double. The Senate reached an agreement last week, though the House still has yet to reach consensus.
This issue has brought others to the surface as well – issues about college affordability in general. Officials from state colleges have been petitioning their representatives with their opinions about this new interest rate. The consensus from all officials is that the students in the greatest need borrow the most, and they are hit the hardest with interest rates.
Also, as tuition rises, available jobs fall, and college financial aid falls, college students are being financially battered from every angle, a fact Representative Rick Larsen reports hearing from many Washington community college and college officials.
A local student said that even if the compromise doesn’t go through the House, students will take the loans anyway because they don’t have another choice.
The uproar about this issue has been forcing a compromise on the interest rate bill, as students from all over the nation cried out against it.
“I want to thank the millions of students across the country who made their voices heard… This advocacy was absolutely critical in pushing this deal to come together,” said U.S. Senator Patty Murray.
The House has not yet reached a compromise, but representatives, students, and officials are all expressing hope that with the public outcry, a resolution is not far away.