News of the day: Students urge Congress to keep loan interest rates low

Mar 14, 2012 Issues: Education, Higher Education


Students from colleges and universities from across the country gathered on Capitol Hill yesterday to urge Congress to prevent the doubling of student loan interest rates from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent on July 1. Joined by Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) and Representative Joe Courtney (D-CT), the students delivered more than 130,000 letters to members of Congress urging them to take swift action to keep their student interest rates low. If Congress doesn’t take action, nearly 7.5 million low- and middle-income student loan recipients applying for new subsidized Stafford loans could face as much as $5,000 in higher loan repayment costs.

One of the students at yesterday’s event, 18-year-old Samantha Durdock, spoke about how increased interests would affect her if Congress fails to act. A sophomore at the University of Maryland in College Park, Durdock currently has $8,000 in subsidized Stafford loans and expects to borrow an additional $15,000. From CNN Money:

"Even though graduation is several years away, I am worried about the amount of debt I will have," Durdock said at the Capitol Hill event. "If interest rates double, the extra debt might also impact my ability to pay basic expenses like rent."

At a time of economic uncertainty, we should not be asking students and families to choose between receiving a college education and paying basic living expenses. However, despite calls to work together to prevent this from happening, House Republicans have so far failed to act.

Democrats in Congress understand that subsidized student loans are a critical tool for many students and families paying for higher education. That’s why past Democratic Congresses have taken steps to make higher education more accessible for families for whom a degree may have been out of reach.  We shouldn’t create more hurdles for young people to get the education or the skills needed to be successful in the 21 century.

Read more about how House Republicans may let student loan interest rates double.