College loan interest rates scheduled to double

May 2, 2013 (CHICAGO)

At College of DuPage, one-third of the students are over 25. Administrators say students in that demographic tend to take out more student loans because they have more life to pay for, more families, mortgages, things like that.

Since 2007, the rates for student loans have been kept low, but they are set go up this summer. Now, some in Congress have reintroduced a bill that would maintain those lower interest rates.

Students at College of DuPage are in finals. Grades are just one concern for students here. For some it's how to pay for their college education.

"I think we're mortgaging our children and our students' future," said Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth, who represents Illinois's 8th Congressional District. "In other nations, students are not facing the kind of loan debt for education that they do in this country, and it makes us less competitive as a nation."

Thursday, a few suburban college students met with Duckworth to discuss a proposed bill that would extend the reduced interest rate for student loans.

Without the bill, current interest rates of 3.4 percent would double to 6.8 percent on July 1.

Ben Yost is working at College of DuPage and expects to take out loans to complete his Bachelor's degree at Northern Illinois. Yost is having to weigh career choice by his ability to repay the loans.

"It's disheartening," said Yost. "We should be able to choose what we want to do. We pay for the education. We should be able to get what we want out of it. In the end, we still kind of have to do the things we do so in the end we can pay off our loans then make enough money to survive."

Tamikia Charles has $28,000 in student loans already. She is paying some back with three part-time jobs.

But the single mom has one more year at COD to start her second career after three layoffs in the financial industry.

She is worried about the possibility of rising interest rates.

"With them saying that they're going to double the interest rate on student loans, it really scares me," said Charles. "I'm really afraid because I don't know how much more debt I'm going to accumulate."

Congresswoman Duckworth understands the weight of college debt. She is paying off $70,000 in debt. She hopes to find a more permanent way to reduce student debt.

"I'd rather these kids be paying off a mortgage," said Duckworth. "If you're gonna have that kind of a debt burden, it should be for a mortgage. It shouldn't be for student loans, not in a country like this where we can do better."

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