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Today, college student leaders from Kent State University, Florida International University, together with Sarita Brown, president of Excelencia in Education, and Ethan Senack from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, called on federal lawmakers to keep student loan interest rates from doubling. On Wednesday, the House Education and Workforce committee will debate the costs and benefits of the federal student loan program, including student loan interest rates.
On July 1, if Congress does nothing, the interest rate will double for subsidized Stafford student loan borrowers across the country, negatively impacting Latino students in particular. Last year, Congress temporarily extended the low rate for one year, which saved close to 8 million students $1,000 each on their loan costs. Student PIRG leaders, working in coalition with many student advocacy groups and education groups, led the charge to make sure that Congress didn’t double our rates last year. We are calling on these same decision makers to make the low rate permanent.
According to Sarita Brown, by 2025, one-quarter of the nation’s college-age population will be Latino, but not enough are earning college and university degrees. “Today, almost 25 percent of Latino dependent undergraduates and just over 15 percent of all undergraduates had family incomes under $40,000.”
“To help many more Latino and other post-traditional students earn college degrees, we need a federal student aid program that acknowledges these realities,” she noted.
“High interest loans come with grave consequences for student borrowers. It is becoming increasingly difficult for recently college graduates to stay above water, and if these rate hikes go through we will be another $1,000 in debt. It’s simply too much,” said Evan Gildenblatt, student body president at Kent State University in Ohio.
Pablo Haspel, student body president of Florida International University at Biscayne Bay, noted that, “maintaining the interest rates low, allows institutions like my own to become a gateway for higher education to the millions of low income students across the nation.”
“This rate increase will not improve the number of students likely to attend college. It will not make students more likely to stay on college. And it will certainly not enable students to be able to pay back their student loans once they finish at their respective institutions,” Ethan Senack of U.S. PIRG noted. “Congress must not double the rate.”
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