One Student’s View: Why We Can’t Afford Student Loan Interest Rates to Double
By Tara Keeny
Education must be accessible and affordable for all.
Yet a major factor that inhibits many would-be students from pursuing higher education is the growing cost of tuition. And now, while college tuition across the country increases, the student loan interest rates are set to double — from 3.4% to 6.8% — if no action is taken by Congress by July 1.
As a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I don’t know many people, like myself, who are paying out-of-state tuition who do not receive student loans to relieve the financial burden and simply make it possible to attend college.
This is clearly not an arbitrary increase that would only affect a select few.
President Barack Obama, U.S. Senate candidate and Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin and students all across the country strongly oppose this interest rate increase for obvious reasons.
Debt as a Deterrent and a Solution
Today, the average debt load for graduating Wisconsin students is $24,627 — an already intimidating figure. If this interest rate increase is implemented it will cost more than 600,000 Wisconsin students an average of about $1000 to their already heavy debt load.
Putting severe post-college debt aside, college students today experience a lot of added stress. Securing a reliable job after college is becoming increasingly difficult. In fact, it’s the source of insurmountable stress among college students who scrounge for connections in the working world and pile majors on top of majors in order to be a more well-rounded candidate than their competitors. College students are under enough pressure as it is and it is clear that the prospect of severe post-college debt may override many students’ desire to receive a higher education.
Tammy Baldwin, one of the strongest opponents to the increased interest rate on student loans knows that there is a solution to this problem. By implementing the Buffett Rule, which would require the wealthy Americans pay their fair share of taxes instead of using loopholes and tax tricks to pay the least possible, she knows that we can freeze the interest rates on college student loans through increased tax revenue.
By simply asking the wealthiest to pay their fair share of taxes, this potential crisis can be avoided. It seems like a simple and obvious solution, but Republicans in Congress have consistently blocked any sort of legislation that would keep the interest rates at a reasonable price.
Republican Plan is Unacceptable and Offensive
Republicans claim to understand the importance of keeping education (somewhat) affordable, but their proposed solutions say something else entirely. The GOP seeks to keep interest rates at 3.4% by cutting $6 billion dollars from the Prevention and Public Health Fund which provides breast cancer screenings and child immunizations.
So, by putting women’s health at risk, we can keep interest rates right where they are. This is probably one of the more illogical and offensive things I have heard in awhile.
Tammy Baldwin and Barack Obama’s solution to this impending crisis is the only plausible and fair one. While other U.S. Senate candidates and the presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney have remained silent on this issue so far, we wonder if they will side with the Senate Republicans or will support Wisconsin students who are in need of debt relief so they can face a brighter future.
Tara Keeny is a communications intern with the Democratic Party of Wisconsin and is a junior studying journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.