first_imgAs finals approach, students are anxiously awaiting the end of classes and the start of summer break. But the summer could hold an unpleasant development for those with student loans. That’s because interest rates on many student loans are scheduled to jump from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent on July 1.Costly · The Occupy protests were partly fueled by by the rising cost of higher education. The interest rate of student loans could double in July. – Courtesy of Mark Boster/Los Angeles TimesThe increase, originally set to take effect last summer, was postponed for a year when Congress voted in favor of extending the current rate. Many pointed to the political nature of this decision, noting the proximity of the 2012 election and legislators’ rising awareness of the increasing electoral influence wielded by American college students.Regardless of whether this was a calculated political move or not, the extension expires in less than two months, and  the government once again faces the same decision it did last year. Some analysts suggest that student loan debt in the United States exceeds $1 trillion, and with roughly 37 million Americans sharing in that debt, the implications of Congress’s decision will be widely felt.Student advocacy groups have mobilized in defense of the current rate, which many argue is already too high. Several groups collectively released an issue brief on April 16 arguing against the rate increase. According to the brief, which references information from a Congressional Budget Office report, the federal government makes 36 cents on every dollar loaned, amounting to an annual profit of more than $34 billion.President Barack Obama, along with a few Republican senators, has proposed a variable interest rate system to prevent the rate from doubling. But many Democratic legislators have suggested voting to extend the current rate for several years, giving Congress time to develop a comprehensive higher-education bill.On a recent trip to Washington, Dean of Financial Aid Thomas McWhorter met with legislative aides of some California congressional members of Congress, including Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein.“During my visit to the Hill, I could sense the fact that Congress is confident there will be an extension,” McWhorter said. “The question is whether it will be short- term or long-term.”McWhorter said approximately 6,250 students currently have subsidized Stafford loans. The last time Congress increased the interest rate on subsidized federal loans was in 2006. In 2008, Congress voted to gradually decrease the rate to 3.4 percent, a rate Congress extended in 2012.Though McWhorter remains unsure about what solution will be reached by Congress, he stressed the university’s commitment to curbing the student debt upon graduation.“When dealing with financial aid, we try to limit the amount of loans to maintain a reasonable debt load for students,” McWhorter said.Many students said the rise of student loan interest rules would have a long-term affect on them even after college.“I have a friend who’s 29 and still paying off student loans,” said Maya Jackson, a sophomore majoring in film and television production. “I would definitely say it’s kind of out of hand.”Jackson said that rising loans take focus away from the importance of education and cause more stress than necessary.“We’re trying to get an education so we can better everything that’s going on,” Jackson said. “It makes it so much more difficult if we have other worries like money while we’re doing that.”Jenny Kavak, a junior majoring in business administration and accounting, supports a decrease in student loan rates because ultimately, affordable education makes it easier for students to pursue their goals.“I just think it’s sad when students use money as a reason to not go to school as well because I think that money should not be an obstacle to them getting an education,” Kavak said.last_img read more