Video Credit: This video shows the first half of President Obama speaking about future concerns of student loans at UNC Chapel Hill
Students Suffer as Congress Considers Doubling Student Loan Interest Rates
Lili Kiefer, Writer
May 1, 2012
Filed under Student Life & News
Do you remember opening your acceptance letter to Catawba College and the beam of joy that you felt when you first saw the words: “We congratulate you on your acceptance to Catawba College?” Well, this good news that is brought to incoming students across this nation every year will very soon become a harsh reality for the majority. Why you may ask? The controversy lies over the problem of what to do about increasing student loans.
Currently, members of Congress are debating over whether to extend the 2007 College and Costs Reduction and Access Act. If Congress does not choose to pass the act again, then that means that interest rates on student loans will double. According to an article by Juliana Deitch, who is a staff writer for Technician Online. Com (North Carolina State University student newspaper), “Interest rates could double from 3.4 percent to at least 6.8 percent for at least 7.4 million students.”
What could this mean for students attending college now and for students who plan to attend college in the future? First, this could leave students in debt long after college graduation. Having a student loan debt that takes years and years to pay off can create unnecessary stress for a graduate as well as his or her family. The stress from having to pay off student loans could also affect job selections and performance in the work place. Ultimately, this could possibly affect a student getting that a dream career that he or she spent four years or more years working towards.
Increasing interest rates on student loans could also decrease the chances of younger siblings or other family members taking those first steps and getting college degrees. Family resources may not be strong enough to cover multiple children or allow for the extra expense of a parent picking up extra educational opportunities.
Last Tuesday, President Barack Obama announced a call to Congress to stop increasing rates from doubling in a speech to college students at UNC Chapel Hill.
In his speech, Obama emphasized that education in this country needs to be affordable for each and every American. He retold memories of when he was in college and his own struggles in paying off student loans. Most importantly, at the end of his presentation, he reminded students of the “American Dream” which is an idea that most citizens in this country are familiar with and strive to achieve often through education.
Obama warned students that doubling interest rates greatly reduces the possibility of ever obtaining the “American Dream.” These huge financial investments may be more than the average student and family can handle.
I sat down with UNC Chapel Hill senior, Caleb Wittum, to find out what students may be thinking after hearing the President’s announcement. Wittum stated, “I really liked what the President said, and he really made some valid points. I think he is doing the right thing in calling Congress to take action and hopefully not decide to double interest rates. I also feel that he is really on students’ side on this issue.”
When I asked him if Obama is speaking in favor of not doubling interest rates on student loans in order to make him look favorable among students in America, he said, “Yes I think so. I feel that Obama already has a high support among college students and younger Americans and that his visit Tuesday (to UNC) was an effort to further secure votes in North Carolina for the upcoming election.”
With an unemployment rate of 8.2% and tough economic times, at least half of college students going into the real world will end up unemployed and forced to go back to live in their mother’s basement and eat her lovely meat loaf. It is hard for graduating students not to become frustrated and filled with hopelessness. Let’s end these frustrations for America’s students and say no to doubling increasing costs of student loans!
Update: Congress did vote down the bill for the increase yesterday 4/29/2012.