Degrees Not Debt: Student loan interest rate set to double in days


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!

Reader Comments

  1. I am 59 years old with 2 boys in college and their father is dead. It is only myself helping them and I have a parent loan debt now of 20,000. They have 2 more years to go. I will probably be forced to retire within the next 3 years as the school I teach in is doing poorly financially and might be forced to consolidate. i am scared for the debt the boys will have and for my own debt. Please consider the need in this country for future workers who are skilled and talented. Can we afford to dismiss our own citizens who are capable of working in science and math fields, or does our country just figure we can let foreign students fill those jobs and be educated in our universities. Will going to college be only for the children of the rich? Can this country afford to return to the days of the early 20th century? I implore our legislators to act now on this new assault on the Middle and lower class citizens. Monica McNamee Special Education Teacher

  2. Have we no scruples, no moral compass in Congress? Well, it will be proven if we do or don’t with how the vote results regarding student loans.
    I think college has been oversold to the masses, telling us you are not a success in life without a degree. And, they are necesaary for some fields of study.
    I read something a few years ago which claimed that corporations got together with universities and to commit to corporate “needs.” They claimed employers no longer wanted to train employees for the jobs filled. (This means you would have been out of luck, Uncle Bill. Your experience and on-the-job training, minus higher education, would not give you your good job with Chrysler you got in 1959.)
    Years ago, electricians, plumbing & heating, construction workers learned their trade on the job. It was the norm. Now such preferred trades require formal educational training. (Cousin Sherry’s husband paid $25 grand to learn heating and cooling.)
    So, back to the issue. If folks are required to spend massive amounts of money to become a viable employee, then to double interest rates upon their endeavors is burdensome. Congress must return to working for the people.

  3. my daughter worked 30 hours a week or more, to cover her expenses while attending college full time. in addition, her father paid $200 -$350 a month while I paid $450 a month, yet she is still saddled with about $40K in student loans. She graduated Magna Cum Laude with her Bachelor of Arts from the Lee Honors College at Western Michigan University. Along the way her writing garnered her a $500 scholarship. Her grades and poise earned her two student internships in her field of study as well. yet she is now under employed in an unrelated field. She barely makes enough money to afford her apartment and living expenses despite being very frugal. She would like to attend graduate school in order to be able to pursue her dreams of writing in a film or media related field, yet we both fear her taking on more debt. If the interest rates go up on student loans she will be unable to afford to further her education, and her dreams will be crushed.

    I am sure that her story is not the only example of how skyrocketing tuition and student loan rates are impeding the future of this generation. We need our legislators, and government in general to act NOW!

    I implore you,
    Mary LaPointe

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