GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - Some West Michigan college students are worried about their student loans, which will double if the U.S. Congress fails to act soon.
The Senate shot down two bills Thursday that would have blocked increases in federal student loan rates, which are set to increase from 3.4% to 6.8% on July 1.
Grand Valley State University Director of Financial Aid Michelle Rhodes said if students take out the maximum loan each year, the increased rates will cost them about $1,000 more for the life of the loan.
Arielle Kohler, a fifth-year student at Ferris State University, jumped at the chance to network at a Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce event on Thursday. But she has more to worry about than a fickle job market.
Kohler has had a close eye on Washington, D.C. where lawmakers have been grappling over doubling student loan interest rates. She already owes $45,000 in loans and still has another year before graduation.
"For this workforce to actually be a workforce, people need to be educated," Kohler said. "And if people are raising the interest rates of these loans, how are people going to afford it?"
Recent Grand Valley State University graduate Brianna Carter owes $25,000 now, but she still has medical school to get through, which means she will need to borrow more.
"You already think about what you owe, and to think that maybe in 10 years it's going to be twice or three times as much, it's scary," she said.
Rhodes said 37% of GVSU students graduate without having to borrow any money, but that those who do have loans should keep in contact with their financial aid office.
"We haven't had a lot of calls about speculation or what ifs, but I anticipate as soon as that July 1 date hits, we will get some phone calls about, 'What does this mean for my specific situation?'" she said.
There are options for those who can't pay their student loans back. Under certain conditions, all or part of a loan can be canceled, discharged or forgiven.
U.S. Department of Education Federal Student Aid Office
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