EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

June 21, 2013

Doubling student loan rates have parents worried

For Mike Coupal of Pelham, the cost for sending his daughter Brooke to go to Merrimack College for four years was already a concern. But with the potential for a doubling of interest rates, Coupal is starting to prepare for bigger loan payments.

“We’ve already exhausted all avenues for her freshman year,” he said. “But we will have to see what happens for the remainder.”

Coupal is among many parents eager to see what happens in Congress with student loans. A July 1 deadline is quickly approaching as the interest rate for subsidized Stafford loans will increase from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent, if Congress doesn’t act.

Members of New Hampshire’s congressional delegation have pledged to do all they can to prevent the hike from taking effect.

The last thing we should do at a time when Americans owe more on student loans than credit cards is to let interest rates on student loans double,” said U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H. We have a responsibility to prevent this from happening; the cost of inaction is too high.”

According to Shaheen, New Hampshire has the highest average student college debt in the nation at $31,408 per student.

Currently, the Senate is working on a bipartisan compromise to prevent interest rates from doubling, while setting an individual rate each year. The rates would be dependent on financial markets.

U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., was planning ot meet with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan yesterday about the proposal.

“The compromise proposal is very encouraging, and I’m reviewing the details and continue to believe we will resolve this on a bipartisan basis,” she said.

Congresswoman Annie Kuster, D-N.H. held a teIephone town hall earlier this week to talk with residents concerned about the hike.

“If Congress fails to act in the next few weeks, our students will be hit with a rate hike that will make it even harder for them to afford higher education,” she said in a statement.

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