Archived Story

Editorial: Congress must address student loan rates

Published 9:12am Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Congress cannot fail on this one.

Many college students receiving loans this fall will find interest rates double what they were in the spring if Congress doesn’t restore lower rates this month.

The rates on subsidized Stafford loans skyrocketed Monday as the 3.4 interest rate expired. Now we will see both sides likely play a game of brinksmanship that, if it fails, could cost our debt-saddled young adults even more red ink than they already swim in. The average college graduate enters the work world with $27,000 in debt.

According to USA Today, public higher education costs more than twice as much in 2010 as it did in 1980, when figures are adjusted for inflation.

If the problem isn’t addressed, we wouldn’t be surprised to see a higher-than-normal number of college students take the fall semester off.

Congress and the president already failed to get a deal done last week, mainly due to “nonstarters” presented in the Senate. Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin’s solution makes the most sense at this point: Extend the existing rate for another year while lawmakers work toward a solution.

Students begin applying for college loans in late July and early August. Getting a deal done right after the Fourth of July break would send a strong message that our existing leaders care about our future leaders, rather than only about the next election.