Student loan rates set to double - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Student loan rates set to double

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RUTLAND, Vt. -

"Affording college is definitely... things are tight. We make it happen. Those of us that have our priorities straight, we make it happen," said Greg Lambert, a student at Community College of Vermont.

Lambert, like many students at CCV, is juggling a very full plate. He is a single father, cancer survivor, studies environment sciences and will be receiving his associate degree in June. He says he plans to further his education in the fall, but worries whether that is possible with the proposed changes to Stafford loans.

"We are the future of this country. We are the future taxpayers of this country. So I think would behoove the government to help out those of us that are trying to improve ourselves trying to get educated," Lambert said.

Congressman Peter Welch spoke with a group of CCV students to hear their concerns about college affordability and to discuss a push in the U.S. House of Representatives to double the interest rates on Stafford loans-- a decision that he says is outrageous.

"How in the world are we going to justify doubling the interest rates from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent? It's really like an imputative tax on aspiring middle class families," said Rep. Welch, D-Vermont.

Administrators at CCV say the change could greatly impact students.

"Seventy percent of our degree students receive financial aid and about 45 percent of those use student loans. As you heard Congressman Welch say, that is about $1,000 average in their repayment. That is significant, and we are very concerned about that," said Pam Chisholm, the director of financial aid at CCV.

"A budget has to take into account our future in folks like you who are willing to work hard to create a future for us. So you are doing your part, OK? Now, Congress has got to do its," Welch said.

Last year the same increase was to be implemented, but Welch played a crucial role blocking the increase. And now, he says with the support of several others, they are fighting to do the same again this year.

Welch seems hopeful that interest rate will remain low. He says a powerful argument he will continue to use is that the government currently borrows at 2 percent, so why should students have interest rates at nearly 7 percent.

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