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We need to freeze student loan rates

As co-president of the Bemidji State Student Senate, and on behalf of the 6,645 students we represent, I urge you to ask Congress to support measures which will keep student loan interest rates frozen at 3.4 percent.

I have $30,000 in student loan debt. This debt will cause me to delay or even prevent the important next steps in my life, like purchasing a home or starting a family. Congress has now made it even more difficult, because on July 1, interest rates on federally subsidized Stafford student loans doubled to 6.8 percent. Over 7 million students across the country will see the cost of college increase by $1,000 per student, per loan.

Congress’ inability to keep student loan interest rates from doubling is incredibly damaging. Students need Congress to act immediately to return federal student loan interest rates to 3.4 percent. I applaud Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar for their support of plans that keep interest rates low for millions of students.

In Minnesota, 194,211 student loan borrowers will be impacted if something is not done. At Bemidji State, 2,422 students will be charged more. Minnesota’s student loan debt averages $29,793 per graduate. This increase translates into an additional $912 in cost per student, per loan. Meanwhile, the federal government is collecting revenue from student loan borrowers – projected at $51 billion in 2014 alone.

Congress needs to support a solution to maintain low rates while it works to reach a long-term solution to the student loan crisis. We cannot afford to place the burden of increased interest rates on a debt-ridden student population.

Kari Cooper

BSU Student Senate Co-President