Obama seeks to prevent student loan rate increase

As students and lawmakers across the nation anxiously await July 1, when Congress will decide whether the student loan rate will double, UH students can be at ease knowing that their University was ranked No. 7 nationally among the colleges that have the least debt by U.S. News & World Report. Colleges with Most and Least Debt 2x4.5 060413

A report issued earlier this month by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau estimates that 38 million student loan borrowers in the United States owe a debt load of more than $1.1 trillion. Yet, the possibility of the student loan rate of 3.4 percent doubling to 6.8 percent still looms overhead.

President Barack Obama is adamantly opposing the increase, saying Friday in the White House Rose Garden that it would cost the typical college student an extra $1,000 annually. The House of Representatives passed a bill already that would allow student loan rates to increase over time with a cap at 8.5 percent, but Obama said he didn’t agree with the bill.

“(The bill) fails to lock in low rates for students next year,” Obama said. “That’s not smart. It eliminates safeguards for lower-income families. That’s not fair. It could actually cost a freshmen starting school this fall more over the next four years than if we did nothing at all and let the interest rates double on July 1st.”

In U.S. News’ 2012 rankings, the debt at graduation for the UH class of 2011 stood at $15,613 with 49 percent of graduates borrowing money. As opposed to Washington D.C.’s American University, which ranked among one of the universities with students graduating with the most debt at more than $37,000, UH is working hard to keep its tuition affordable.

“The net price of attendance at UH is the lowest among comparable universities. Considering that undergraduate tuition was not raised this year, we will continue to be one of the best values for Tier One education in the nation,” said UH President and Chancellor Renu Khator.

Recently, Student Government Association President Cedric Bandoh, who employs student loans himself, stepped into the national spotlight on Yahoo’s The Daily Ticker to represent the student voice on the issue.

“It’s very daunting having thousands and thousands of dollars in debt packed up on you, wondering when you’re going to pay it back when there’s no jobs out there,” Bandoh said.

Bandoh has been an advocate on the issue since it was introduced a year ago.

“Last year on the National Campus Leadership Council, which is a national coalition of student leaders, like myself, lead a campaign to get students rallied up around this issue with the phrase ‘Don’t double my rate.’”

The plan, Bandoh said, is to take the catchy phrase and tweet it to representatives and make your voice heard.

“In this day to double the rate from 3.4 to 6.8 is just not the right thing to do, and I urge all students to get the message around of ‘Don’t double my rate,’” Bandoh said.

Likewise, Obama is continuing to speak out about his opposition toward the increase as the U.S. eagerly awaits Congress’ decision.

The president concluded his remarks in the White House Rose Garden by calling the nation to action to prevent a college education from being “a luxury for a privileged few.”

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