by Colleen Flaherty
Linda Eisenberg is a single mother living in Los Angeles. Her son will be a senior at the University of California Santa Cruz in the fall, and he will be directly affected by any changes in the federal student loans.
“He would not have been able to attend a university without financial aid in the form of grants and loans,” said Eisenberg. “I am worried that once my son graduates, he will be buried in debt.”
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If Congress doesn’t take action by July 1 – just one week away – the federal student loan interest rate will double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent.
As college tuition increases and tuition assistance decreases, students across the country are feeling the burden from student loan debt, which surpassed $1 trillion just last year. This staggering amount is not just hurting students, but also our economy.
Education Votes asked readers to share their story about student loan debt, and more than a hundred concerned students, parents and educators like Eisenberg told us how student loan debt is affecting them, and how it could get worse if the rate doubles.
Tiffany Jennings is a college student in Kansas who is paying her own way through school.
“My parents are very supportive, but they simply cannot afford to help me as I am one of seven daughters,” said Jennings.
She is the second youngest daughter, but the first in her family to complete her associate degree. Her sisters attended college but couldn’t complete their degrees due to financial issues. She has now transferred to a four-year university where she is acquiring student loan debt.
I work as much as I can during the fall and spring semesters, and work over 40 hours a week in the summer, while still taking eight credit hours online. The stress of my financial situation has been reflected in my grades. Something has to be done. I do not want to be like my five older sisters and have to quit before I am done because I simply cannot afford it. At this point, I look at the cost of graduate school and question just how worth the extra three years of tuition really is.
“We should not have to limit our dreams because of the financial hardships it places on citizens,” said Jennings.
Currently, students who graduate from college have an average of $27,000 in student loan debt. It doesn’t just hold back young graduates, but when Americans owe more on their student debt than on credit cards, it holds back the entire middle class.
As President Obama said in a speech defending low student loan interest rates, “Those payments can last for years, even decades, which means that young people are putting off buying their first car, or their first house – the things that grow our economy and create new jobs.”
Lyndsey Campbell is a mother, student and military spouse who is worried what a higher rate means for her family and other families like hers.
“Doubling the interest rate on student loans will be more detrimental to people than anything,” said Campbell.”It’s already very expensive to go to college as it is, and for people who have to rely on student loans in order to go, doubling the interest rate will only stop people from attending.”
“Doubling my interest rate will only take food out of my child’s mouth and clothes off his back. It makes me wonder what this world is coming to where we have to pay an exorbitant amount of money in order to receive an education. Unbelievable.”
Don Rodgers is a university student in Pennsylvania who not only worries about himself, but for future students who want to attend college.
“There are far too many students, myself among them, who can barely afford to finish their college education now,” said Rodgers. “I can’t help but wonder how many individuals will never even consider attending college because they know they will never be able to afford to pay the outrageous interest rates on student loans.
“Protect the future of this country by not raising the interest rates on student loans.”
If you’re concerned about the student loan interest rate, contact your congressperson today and tell them not to double the rates!