Rate rise will put higher education out of reach for many

For a growing number of students, these loans have become the primary or only means of paying for college, and if this interest rate increase is allowed to stand, it could put higher education beyond their reach, AFT president Randi Weingarten says. "It is simply unacceptable to deny young people access to college and add onto huge mountains of student loan debt because of Congress' failure to act.

"There is still time for Congress to correct this rate crisis. When lawmakers return from their Fourth of July recess, they should move immediately to enact a retroactive fix. One way to do that was proposed last week by Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island and several co-sponsors. The bill they offered is a reasonable solution that would keep the rate at 3.4 percent—consistent with the suggestions made by the AFT and others who support affordable higher education.

"Congress should pass this short-term extension of current interest rates on subsidized Stafford loans. Then lawmakers must take the time to thoroughly address all federal financial aid programs as part of the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. And as we have said repeatedly, any comprehensive, permanent solution must not end up costing students and their families more in the long run."