With Americans owing more than $1 trillion in student loan debt, the Senates filibuster last week of a Democratic proposal to freeze student loan
interest rates could not come at a worse time.
While Democrats propose to fund the difference in interest rates which will automatically double on July 1, if no legislation is passed to delay that date by no longer allowing small business owners earning more than $25,000 to avoid payroll taxes, Republicans propose to cutfunding from the 2010 Affordable Care Act, in turn cutting funding to cervical and breast cancer screenings,diabetes treatments and childhoodimmunizations.
Though both parties have assured that they wish to see the extension of the low rates, if Congress cannot set aside their politics by July 1 to figure out how to make up the difference, an estimated 7.4 million students will see their loan interest rates double, according to the New York Times.
A Times analysis of data from the Department of Education found that 94 percent of studentspursuing a bachelors degreeborrow money, while 45 percent did so in 1993. From those whostarted repaying their loans in 2009, about one out of every10 borrowers defaulted withintwo years.
And the increasing debt has led to a much larger problem.
According to a study by Rutgers University, 40 percent of recent college graduates interviewed said they delayed making majorpurchases because of the debt they had to put off. More than25 percent moved in withrelatives or paused their pursuit ofeducation because of money, and about half had a full-time job.
According to the College Board, students in 2011 borrowed about two times as much as they did10 years ago.
With the increasing need for loans to continue higher education,students cant afford an increase in interest rates.
The potential interestrate increase is compoundedby recent lawsuits by the federal government against those who do not repay their loans. In 2011, the federal government sued4,328 people for old debtsnationally, which was 43 percent more than it had a year prior.
When the gov ernment gives out federal loans, it does not take into account the borrowers ability to repay the loans.
Avoiding loans altogether is not a realistic solution, especially for students who have no other means of continuing their education without them.
The fact that the loans must be paid off eventually and are not forgiven by bankruptcy creates a seemingly endless spiral toward debt with no tangible solution.
Students take out loans that they will be very unlikely to pay off. As tuition increases and the job market declines, graduates are thrust into a world where they are expected to pay off high debts with jobs they do not have and salaries that cannot sustain.
It is time for the politicalparties to set aside theirdifferences and work toward a comprehensive solution that will not only alleviate student Stafford loan stress, but will also bode well for future generations.
Zein Kattih is a sophomoremajoring in cellular and molecular biology.