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White House Budget Leaves Students in the Lurch





College student leaders from across California reacted to the President’s budget on April 10, calling on Congress to extend the low interest rate and give students time to weigh in on more comprehensive reform. Last year, Congress temporarily extended the low rate for one year, which saved close to eight million students $1,000 per loan borrowed. California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG) leaders, working in coalition with many student advocacy groups and education groups led the charge to make sure that Congress didn’t double our rates last year, with the deadline looming once again, we are calling on these same decision makers to step up again this year.

The President released a budget that included a proposal for preventing the student loan interest rate from doubling this July 1.

“Unfortunately, the President’s proposal lowers interest rates now by charging more from student borrowers down the road,” said Roshni Ashok, CALPIRG chapter chair and University of Southern California sophomore, “With less than three months before the interest rate is set to double, we need more time to work with Congress and the President to make sure any comprehensive reform is beneficial to students today and tomorrow.”

The student leaders called on Congress to extend the low 3.4 percent interest rate for a short period to give them more time to work with lawmakers in developing a plan that will actually benefit students both now and in the future.

Congresswoman Karen Bass supports keeping student loan interest rates low:

“The issue of crippling student loan debt and the debilitating impacts this debt is having on American’s ability to contribute to the growth of the United States economy is something that must be addressed. In Washington we talk a lot about not passing debt onto the backs of our children and grandchildren – well there is no more immediate or direct debt on the backs of future generations than the amounts taken from their paychecks to pay back increasingly expensive student loan debts . . .

“We have gotten to this place by not adequately addressing how we finance higher education and treating a college degree as though it isn’t an investment for the collective public good of our country. Education is a ladder to economic opportunity but for far too many Americans the opportunity is coming at too great a cost. We all must do our part to wake Washington up on the dangers mounting student loan debt can have on the future of our country.”

The Congresswoman hosted a conference call for student leaders on April 11 to discuss how to keep student loan interest rates low.

Ashok is thankful to the Congresswoman for her leadership, stating, “Balancing low rates now on the backs of students down the road isn’t a victory – we need Congress and the President to extend the low interest rate to give students the chance to weigh in on a long-term solution that will actually help them achieve their college degree.

“Congress must not double the rate.”

(Ethan Senack is the higher education advocate at the United States Public Interest Research Group. His post first appeared on BeyondChron and is republished with permission.)

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