Willie Roberson, a Summer 2012 Intern at The Leadership Conference Education Fund
With Congress gridlocked and the July 1 deadline quickly approaching, interest rates on Stafford Federal Student Loans are on track to double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent, adding a heap of additional financial pressure to thousands of college students like myself.
As a rising junior at the University of Rochester who took out a fortune in loans for tuition and other expenses – and as a student who plays varsity football, works two jobs, and maintains a decent GPA – I understand the burden a drastic shift like this can place on college students. As education costs continue to skyrocket, I am just one of millions of students looking to Congress for relief from mounting debt. In a Huffington Post op-ed, Kaitlyn Riedel, a student at the University of Dayton, echoed these concerns:
“Before we let interest rates on student loans double, let’s take a look at the facts on student loan debt. American students took out about $112 billion in student loans in 2011 and currently owe, overall, $1 trillion in student loans. In 2010, student loan debt surpassed national credit card debt for the first time in history. Now, take these statistics and pair them with an 8.1 percent unemployment rate and an average 7.3 percent tuition increase for four-year public universities in 2011. It is obvious we have a student population whose financial state is only going to worsen.”
Because of my financial situation and the urgency of the issue at hand, I will be alongside thousands of other D.C. interns and college students from around the nation this Wednesday, June 6, to rally in support of Student Debt Day. Youth advocacy organization Campus Progress is encouraging students to let their voices be heard either through attending the rally or signing the petition. I am currently an intern at The Leadership Conference, but I know that my ability to work for a non-profit organization could be limited in the future if Congress does not resolve this issue. My degree should be a lasting asset, not a lifelong burden.