Forward Thinking

The Real Problem With Student Debt

By Hannah Rubin

I was greeted the other day by the charmingly nasal voice of President Barack Obama crackling through my telephone — calling to talk with me (and, surely, an undisclosed number of others) about the importance of keeping student loan interest rates low.

This White House Update Call — planned for student activists working alongside the administration to stop Congress from its planned July 1 raising of the interest rate on student loans — is the latest step in a much larger political campaign that the Obama administration has taken on.

The larger campaign revolves around resolving the student debt crisis; this aspect relates specifically to one part of that.

If Congress does not act, a mandate from 2007 that temporarily reduced Stafford subsidized student loan interest rates for five years is set to expire—which will effectively raise current interest rates from their reduced stature of 3.4% back to their original height of 6.8%.

Congress is currently at a standstill, as neither side will agree upon where to get the funds to subsidize the 6 billion dollars necessary to keep interest rates down.

The Republicans want to cut into Obama’s healthcare plan for funding, while the Democrats want to cut into oil subsidies and corporate tax loopholes. In many ways, it’s the same old story.

Obama has been traveling the country rallying his audience to “keep the pressure on Congress” because “college affordability is a key element in an American economy made to last.”

On the phone I was told to “buckle down” and “take action” because “this next week makes a real difference”. And yet, according to the New York Times, the estimated economic impact from this year-long hike will be about $6 per month per person. The interest rate hike will only last for a single year, if it is passed.

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