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Stafford Loan rate hike burdens those least able to afford it

Published: Monday, June 17, 2013 12:02 p.m. CST

To the editor:

For most college students, loans are a fact of life. Skyrocketing tuition costs have made borrowing money a necessity for many to afford their education.

In fact, 72 percent of Iowa’s college students take out student loans and hold an average of more than $22,000 in loan debt at graduation.

Students with the greatest financial need are eligible for subsidized Stafford loans, providing some relief to those who need it most. But the interest rate on these loans is set to double from 3.4 to 6.8 percent on July 1.

If Congress fails to prevent this change, the financial burden of a college education will significantly increase for the students who can least afford it.

This interest rate hike will cost Iowa students alone more than $200 million. That’s $200 million that future graduates won’t have in their pockets to place a down payment on a house or a car right here in Iowa.

Instead, they’ll have to write bigger checks to Washington to pay off their loans.

This isn’t the first time that we’ve faced this problem. Last summer, this same interest rate faced the same potential increase until Congress passed a temporary, one-year freeze.

It’s time to stop passing the buck and develop a real solution. Congress must work toward a student-centered, permanent approach to student loan reform.

We, the 12 student body presidents at colleges and universities across Iowa representing more than 150,000 Iowa college students, need your help to get Congress to act. Call your representatives in Congress and ask them to create a lasting, comprehensive solution to this problem that works for Iowa’s students by preventing rates from doubling on July 1.

Together, let’s make an investment in Iowa’s future.

Spencer Hughes

Iowa State University

Paul Esker

Luther College

Emily R. Ramsey

Ashford University

Miranda Wehde

Central College

Anna Barton, Coe College

Parker Luke, Cornell College

Thomas Neil, Grinnell College

Aaron Lacy

Mount Mercy University

Jennifer Villalobos

Scott Community College

Kemper Rusteberg

St. Ambrose University

Katherine Valde

University of Iowa

Zach Sommers

Wartburg College

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