9/3/2014

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'Unecessary and cruel:' Student loan rates could double on Monday

'Unecessary and cruel:' Student loan rates could double on Monday
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Congress is being criticized for not finding a way to stop federal student loan rates from doubling on Monday.

Lawmakers left Washington, D.C. without a plan to stop skyrocketing rates for federal student loans -- they accelerated a collision course between students and the debt that kicks in no matter what.

"Loans will double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. It's unnecessary and cruel," Rep. Peter Welch, a Vermont democrat, said.

Columbia student Rachel Boehr started out studying drama but skyrocketing tuition costs forced her to drop out, now at age 30, she's only just finished her undergraduate degree.

"I'm almost $60,000 in debt, which will affect my ability to get a mortgage, my ability to have children and put them through a good education, it'll will affect which kind of job I choose," Boehr said.

At stake are the future finances of 100,000 Washington students and hundreds of thousands of others across the country.

Democrats are wary of a House GOP bill that would adjust rates on Stafford loans year to year based on the interest rate of a 10 year treasury note, plus two-and-a-half percent.

If it passes -- students would pay as much as $5,000 more in repayment charges over a 10-year period.

Nothing reduces the deficit more than investing in education, some experts say.

Not every democrat is against the concept of tying the rate to an index.

President Obama has proposed setting loan rates each year, but making them fixed for the life of that loan.

"We can't keep saddling young people with more and more debt as they're starting out in life," Obama said.

Although the rate kicks in Monday-- Congress could change the interest rate if they strike a deal after the Fouth of July recess.

Several state lawmakers will meet at University of Washington Monday to call on Congress to extend lower rates.
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