Part of the reason for the decline in support is the price tag, McClean said. Last year, extending the lower interest rate cost the federal government about $6 billion, and some lawmakers would like to trim that cost.
A House budget proposal put forth by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., would allow the interest rate to double. Meanwhile, the Senate Democrats' budget proposal calls for making the current interest rate permanent.
McClean said she hopes to see lawmakers come up with a more predictable rate rather than relying on a cycle of one-year extensions. The organization is pushing for a rate that's more closely tied to the market rather than one that's written into the law without consideration for what the economy is doing, she said.
Time to think ahead
Matt Hamilton, OU's registrar and vice president for enrollment and financial services, said the change would make it all the more important for students and families to think ahead when making decisions about financial aid.
About 7,000 students are attending OU on Stafford loans this year, Hamilton said. Although incoming students wouldn't feel the effects of the increase until they begin repaying their loans after graduation, he said financial aid officials will be working to make sure they understand the terms of their loan packages.
“There is ultimately an impact that we want students and families to carefully consider,” Hamilton said. “If this happens, we will redouble our efforts to make sure they understand the impact.”