Roughly 10,000 students at Wright State University depend on subsidized Stafford loans to go to college. Soon after graduation, they all know they’ll have to pay it back with 3.4% interest. But this summer, that rate could double.
“We simply can’t allow the interest on student loans to increase,” said U.S. Senator from Ohio Sherrod Brown at his May 4 press conference in the Student Union.
Several years ago through bi-partisan agreement, the current rate was locked in, said Brown but that agreement is due to expire July 1, effectively doubling the interest rate for about 382,000 students in Ohio.
Joined by Wright State student body President Paul Reed, student body Vice President Nick Warrington and Michelle Anderson, a student-worker in the Office of Financial Aid, Brown argued the hike would be crushing for the future of education. He reminded the crowd that national student loan debt, a sum he says is about $800 billion, is now greater than credit card and auto loan debt combined.
“The average student in this country who graduates from college has $27,000 in debt. It didn’t used to be that way and I don’t think we have any business piling more debt on top of that,” said Brown.
According to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, the rate hike would add about $1,000 in loan debt per loan for the average student.
Brown, Senator Jack Reed (Rhode Island) and Senator Tom Harkin (Iowa) are the lead sponsors of the proposed legislation, Stop the Student Loan Interest Rate Hike Act of 2012, which he said would keep the loan at its current rate and pay for the difference by closing an unrelated tax loophole.
Brown said it’s particularly important to take action to protect universities like Wright State that have kept tuition costs down and have such a large portion of the student body that are first-generation college students.
“This hike will be felt very much at a school like Wright State, which does a good job of keeping its tuition in check, and at places like Sinclair and at other community colleges too, where the cost of higher ed is still a burden for so many families because their parents can’t afford to lend them money,” said Brown.