Terry Hartle: US
Students Face Higher Costs Unless Congress Acts
June 28, 2013
Seven million low-income U.S. college students face higher costs unless
President Barack Obama and both Democrats and Republicans in Congress
reach an agreement by July.
Many experts doubt the bickering politicians will act in time to prevent
a doubling of the interest charged on education loans for students who
need the financial help the most. This dispute comes as a college
education is more important than ever to get good jobs, and college
costs are soaring.
About one-third of college students in the United States rely on
low-cost loans that are subsidized by the government.
Right now, the interest rate is 3.4 percent a year, but it will double
to 6.8 percent if Congress doesn't act.
That could add up to thousands of dollars in additional repayments if
low-income college students borrow $20,000 or more for the four years of
Spencer Hughes, student government president at Iowa State University,
says the higher costs will hurt the students who can least afford it.
"For many of them this assistance is necessary for them to be able to
afford a college education. So there are going to be some serious
considerations if it is worth it for me to consider pursuing a degree
with this increased burden," said Hughes.
Hughes says students are fed up with politicians who spend their time
blaming each other for the impasse. He says it is time for Congress to
do its job and reach an agreement so students know what their costs will
be as they pursue higher education.
evolving debate includes some who want to extend current rates, while
others say it is too costly for taxpayers. Some want to tie interest
rates to market conditions, while others say to do so would be okay if
there were an upper limit on rates and a way to set the rate for a term
Terry Hartle of the American Council on Education says he hopes the
various factions can work out a deal. He says the issue is important to
students and the national economy.
"Countries with a high percentage of educated and skilled workforce will
do better than countries that do not have a highly educated and
well-trained workforce," said Hartle.
Hartle says if Congress misses the deadline, members could work out a
deal later and set interest rates retroactively.