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Student Loan Rate Legislation Gaining Momentum

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A bill that was recently proposed at the federal level would extend current rules that keep the interest rates on federally-issued student loans at their current low levels is gaining a significant amount of support in Congress.

The latest federal lawmaker to come out in favor of this legislation is New York Senator Charles Schumer, a Democrat, who recently pledged his support for the bill in a speech to students at Syracuse University, according to a report from the Syracuse Post-Standard. In announcing his support for the proposed law, Schumer also noted that it has backers on both sides of the political aisle.

On July 1, the current interest rate on outstanding government-issued student loans is set to double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent, meaning that all financing obtained from the federally-subsidized program after that date will cost borrowers significantly more, the report said. In fact, data from the New York Higher Education Services Corp. shows that over the course of a 10-year repayment plan, the average borrower for a four-year education would end up paying an additional $3,798 for their loans compared with the current levels.

“Student loan debt is almost like quicksand it swallows you up before you’re on a firm footing,” Schumer said in his speech, according to the newspaper.

The legislation proposed would keep the current rate of 3.4 percent, and Schumer noted lawmakers would pay for the shortfall in the expected revenues generated by the 6.8 percent rate by closing either five or six loopholes in the current tax code, the report said. Those include subsidies given to oil companies, tax breaks for corporations that own their own jets and laws that allow people to make themselves corporations in an effort to pay fewer taxes.

Studies have shown that student loan balances are exploding, with the average borrower now owing tens of thousands of dollars by the time they graduate, on both federal and privately-issued student loans. The total amount owed on these lines of credit recently surpassed credit card balances, and some experts worry that the increased reliance on this type of financing could create another serious debt crisis for consumers. Further, many young adults are also now graduating college with thousands of dollars worth of credit card debt spread across a number of accounts, meaning it may be even more difficult to gain financial independence.

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