#WYNTKA: The Student Loan Debate

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Start the countdown. On July 1st, exactly 1 month from now, student loan interest rates are going to double, costing some students an estimated $1,000 more a year. Now before we start preparing for the student loan zombie apocalypse, there is a good chance Congress will be able to keep the rates low (put down that bat, step away from the “break glass in case of emergency.” Okay? Okay). Luckily, there are also a few ways you can take matters into your own hands. Both Romney and Obama agree that this is an important issue, and if those two can agree, then we should probably listen up. But first — we gotta figure out what exactly is going on, why this matters, and what you can do about it. This is what you need to know about: the student loan debate.

+ Let’s Break It Down

Okay, so basically back in ’07 Congress passed a measure that cut federal student loan interest rates from 6.8% to 3.4% for 5 years.  Pretty sweet deal, right? Congress knew that with the rising cost of college and crappy job prospects for recent grads things were getting tough, and they had our backs. Buttt time’s up, the party’s over.  At least until Congress can agree on how to keep the rates low for everyone.

+ Will This Affect Me?

If you’re a current or future college student who plans to take out a subsidized Stafford loan (the ones that the gov pays the interest for until you graduate) your interest rates will double — going from 3.4% to 6.8%.

+ What’s the Hold Up? Why Can’t Congress Agree?

Look — it’s not that one party wants the rates to go up and the other party doesn’t. The good news is that most of Congress agrees that the rates need to stay low to help us out. The thing is, someone’s gotta pay for it, and our country is pretty strapped for cash at the moment. Republicans and Democrats in the Senate and the House have both proposed different ideas about how to offset the cost, and some things are on the chopping block. The Republican-controlled House passed a bill last Friday that would get rid of the health care reform law’s $10 billion prevention and public health fund, but the White House threatened to veto it, and cited it as an attack on women’s health. Senate Democrats want to pay for it by closing a tax loophole for wealthy owners of private corporations, but nothing has been agreed on yet.

+ What Can You Do?

Don’t panic.

Do call, e-mail, or tweet your Senators and Representatives. Let them know that with one month left, they need to get it together to keep your interest rates from doubling. Sometimes legislators need a little bit of a push…like this:

You can also check out the My College Dollars app to help you find scholarships, and keep checking back at Power of 12 to stay informed about the issue.

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