Last year students at colleges across the region, and across the country, became concerned that interest rates on Stafford loans were set to double. Congress blocked the increase - but it was not a permanent measure. Vermont Congressman Peter Welch is renewing his efforts to stop the rate hike.
Stafford Student Loan rates will double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent on July 1st unless Congress blocks the increase. Democratic Vermont Congressman Peter Welch visited the Community College of Vermont in Rutland on Thursday to talk with students about how a rise in interest rates might affect them. He calls their stories inspiring.
Welch was among the Congressional representatives who led the effort to prevent last year’s rate increase. But it was only a one-year fix. He notes that the current budget gridlock is preventing action on the Stafford loan issue.
Higher education advocates are mobilizing to get the word out that college affordability is at risk. New York Public Interest Research Group Higher Education Program Coordinator Kevin Stump says students are incredibly concerned about a possible rate increase.
The Vermont Student Assistance Corporation, known as VSAC, works to assure that students have the resources for education and training beyond high school. President and CEO Don Vickers says the information is just coming out, and many people are unaware about the pending increase.
NYPIRG’s Kevin Stump, who is halfway through his master’s program, says the Stafford interest rate is only one of many issues that need to be addressed.
According to VSAC, Pell grants are expected to be level funded over the next year. Cuts are expected in campus financial aid, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, work-study and career counseling services to disadvantaged residents.