Incoming college students could see their student loan interest rates double next semester if Congress doesn't take action to prevent the increase.
Interest rates on new federal Stafford loans are scheduled to increase from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent on July 1, just as new college students are preparing for their first semester. Already, students are expressing concern over the change.
“I feel like that's a pretty big jump,” said Matthew Tran, a senior at Harding Charter Preparatory High School in Oklahoma City.
Tran, 18, plans to go to the University of Oklahoma in the fall, where he wants to major in computer science. He doesn't yet know if he'll need to take out student loans to pay for school, but he's concerned about how the change would affect his financial situation when he leaves college.
Many recent graduates already struggle to get out of debt, he said, and Tran said he's worried an increase in the interest rate could make the situation even more difficult.
A similar increase was scheduled to take effect in July 2012, but lawmakers extended the lower interest rate after President Barack Obama and officials in the U.S. Department of Education came out against allowing rates to climb.
Rate could double
Support for maintaining the lower interest rate seems to be more muted this year, said Megan McClean, managing director of policy and federal regulations for the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.
“The push to keep it 3.4 was really on by this time last year,” McClean said.