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Student loan interest rates double

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The cost of going to college just got more expensive. Not only are tuition rates going up nationwide, but now the interest rates on most student loans are rising.

Interest rates for new Stafford loans are increasing from 3.4% interest to 6.8% interest, and Toby Barker, local state representative whose district includes USM, is not happy about it.

Student loans issued before July 1 keep the rate they originally came with; however, students borrowing after July 1 are expected to fork up double the amount college grads pay back now.

"The house passed a bill that would tie the interest rates long term to market rates, which is something the president actually went along with, as well."

But Senate Democrats disagreed, and the two have not reached an agreement. Barker says state appropriations have changed since he entered college 13 years ago.

Barker expresses concern for the livelihood of future college grads.

"They come out of school in a tough job market saddled with tens of thousands, if not more, student debt, and that does not set our future generations up for success," Barker said.

He also points out the dysfunctional political culture in Washington, and that an agreement must be made between both sides.

"Until something changes, you're going to see problems like this and it's our students who have to pay the price," Barker said.

The director of financial aide at USM offers a piece of advice for students who will be affected by this change.

"They're going to have to be more conservative and wise with their borrowing because it will increase their payments once they go into repayment,"said David Williamson, director of financial aide at USM.

He also notes that students should seek advice from financial aide counselors before taking out loans.