June 27, 2013
Congress has until Monday to make a deal to prevent interest rates from jumping on millions of student loans across the country. Nearly 180,000 Virginia students could be affected.
Soon-to-be freshman and first-years are excited to start their college experience but might not have started thinking about loans and debt just yet. Some medical students, however, have had debt on their minds for a while.
"You can be a student and made your life plan and find that these rates change mid-stream significantly," said Fraser Henderson, a fourth-year medical student at UVa who has taken out the maximum amount of federal loans.
He says medical students will leave grounds with an average of $130,000 of debt and the pressure would pile on if interest rates doubled.
"Although I think the general sense is that everything will work out and we'll be able to feed and clothe our children," Henderson said.
"Will it be a hardship on the students? It could be," said Piedmont Virginia Community College Financial Aid Director Carol Larson.
Larson says at PVCC most students get some sort of grant, or free money, and don't need to take out loans so she says doubling rates wouldn't have too much of an affect on enrollment.
"I think if the student and the family plan for this student to attend college, they're going to come and there are ways if you'reapplying for financial aid, most students are going to get some kind of grant to help them," Larson said.
But Henderson says for medical school, something has to change.
"There has to be a balance and a recognition that it's getting tighter for students," Henderson said. "They're going to lose students in their applicant field who might make great doctors because the economics aren't working out the way they used to."
Democratic Senator Tim Kaine (D) is a cosponsor of the Student Loan Affordability Act of 2013. Here is his statement on the issue:
"We are trying to come up with a solution that will allow students to continue to get the education they need to be successful in this economy without a choking amount of debt," said Kaine. "The proposal I've cosponsored would leave the loan rates right where they are by closing tax loopholes."
Fifth District Republican Congressman Robert Hurt:
“Last month, the House of Representatives took action and passed a responsible, bipartisan solution to fix the student loan program and stop rates from doubling on July 1st. The House-passed bill includes some of the very same proposals called for in President Obama's student loan plan and addresses the serious issue of reducing our national debt. I urge the Senate to join us and take action to protect students and their families from drastic increases in loan interest rates.”