Local student reacts to soaring interest rates on college loans

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Congress did not make an agreement on student loans, and interest rates for countless numbers of students will increase from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent.

This mainly applies to Stafford loans, a popular source of college loan and funding for many students. The higher rate means a student who would take the maximum $23,000 Stafford loan will need to pay an extra $4,600 in interest.

The lawmakers are currently on their Fourth of July holiday leave, but John McElveen, the assistant vice president for enrollment management from Columbus State University says he remains hopeful for a new compromise.

"There is no guarantee that Congress' new compromise on student loans will go back down to 3.4 percent," John McEveen explained. "However, there is a possibility that the new rate will decrease to five or maybe even four percent. I am hoping and many experts are expecting the lawmakers to get together to come up with a better compromise."

Kayla Walker is a recent graduate from Carver High School in Columbus, Georgia. She received a full-tuition scholarship to Clark Atlanta University to major in business. Walker will attend this fall, and even though she received the Dean's scholarship, she still needed to take two additional  loans for other expenses.

"I tried not to take out on any loans, but that was not the case," Walker said. "I needed those two additional loans, and it's devastating to know that the interest rates have spiked up so much. I am hoping that it goes down, otherwise, I will have to work more jobs to pay off my loans."

John McElveen also explained the importance of applying for scholarships, like Kayla Walker.

"If a student can qualify for some scholarships, then he or she should do it," McElveen said. "It's debt-free, and it also looks great on resumes! It's a financial assistance that people will not have to pay back, since it has been rewarded to them."

Kayla Walker says she is happy with her financial reward from Clark Atlanta University. However, she might need to look for more loans for books, dorms and other expenses in the near future. Walker also worries about her little sister's future, who is only four. Walker says it isn't too early to start thinking about her sister's college career now.

"I am scared for my baby sister," Kayla Walker said. "My mom used to say that she paid a little less than I do now, when she had to go to college. At this rate, my sister will not just have to pay a little less - she will have to pay significantly more! I truly am scared because you never know what could trigger the economy and the government to make other shocking changes. All I can do now is to do the best I can in college and get a well-paying job afterwards to pay off my loans and help my sister plan for her future."

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