News / USA

Millions of US Students Face Higher Costs Unless Congress Acts

Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee Chairman Sen. Tom Harkin talks about legislation to try and prevent the increase in the interest rates on some student loans, June 27, 2013, during a news conference on Capitol Hill.
Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee Chairman Sen. Tom Harkin talks about legislation to try and prevent the increase in the interest rates on some student loans, June 27, 2013, during a news conference on Capitol Hill.
Jim Randle
Seven million low-income U.S. college students face higher costs unless President Barack Obama and both Democrats and Republicans in Congress reach an agreement by July. 

Many experts doubt the bickering politicians will act in time to prevent a doubling of the interest charged on education loans for students who need the financial help the most.  This dispute comes as a college education is more important than ever to get good jobs, and college costs are soaring.  

About one-third of college students in the United States rely on low-cost loans that are subsidized by the government.  

Right now, the interest rate is 3.4 percent a year, but it will double to 6.8 percent if Congress doesn't act.   

That could add up to thousands of dollars in additional repayments if low-income college students borrow $20,000 or more for the four years of undergraduate studies.

Spencer Hughes, student government president at Iowa State University, says the higher costs will hurt the students who can least afford it.

"For many of them this assistance is necessary for them to be able to afford a college education.  So there are going to be some serious considerations if it is worth it for me to consider pursuing a degree with this increased burden," said Hughes.

Hughes says students are fed up with politicians who spend their time blaming each other for the impasse.  He says it is time for Congress to do its job and reach an agreement so students know what their costs will be as they pursue higher education.  

The evolving debate includes some who want to extend current rates, while others say it is too costly for taxpayers.  Some want to tie interest rates to market conditions, while others say to do so would be okay if there were an upper limit on rates and a way to set the rate for a term in college.
 
Terry Hartle of the American Council on Education says he hopes the various factions can work out a deal.  He says the issue is important to students and the national economy.  

"Countries with a high percentage of educated and skilled workforce will do better than countries that do not have a highly educated and well-trained workforce," said Hartle.

Hartle says if Congress misses the deadline, members could work out a deal later and set interest rates retroactively.

You May Like

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

China to Open Stock Markets to Pension Funds

In unprecedented move, government to soon allow local pension funds to invest up to $94 billion in domestic shares More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs