Students share concerns to Sen. Kaine over possible rate hike - NBC12 - Richmond, VA News

Students share concerns to Sen. Kaine over possible rate hike

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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

You could soon be paying more on your student loan. Interest rates are set to double for federal subsidized loans, known as Stafford loans - next week - unless lawmakers quickly come up with a plan.

It's a topic that has major implications. Take J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College for example, where one in five students receive federal subsidized loans - with the interest rate set to double July 1, students told Senator Tim Kaine that they just can't afford the hike.

Instead of going straight to college after high school, Kayla Cagwin worked until she could afford it.

Now that she's in college, she's concerned about the possibility subsidized Stafford loan rates may double from 3.4 % to 6.8 % at the end of the month.

"You want to get your education so you can be contributing to society as much as you can but at the same time it's kind of scary to incur that debt and look at going into life with a debt," Cagwin said.

Monday, Senator Tim Kaine listened to Cagwin and other students concerns.

"Most of these folks will take out loans for multiple years so now you're talking about adding thousands of dollars of interest payments," he said.

There are several plans on the table including floating interest rates with the state of the economy - and placing ceilings on rates - but Kaine suggests renewing the current 3.4 % rate and finding other ways to cut government spending.

"To keep it at 3.4 % like Sen. Kaine wants to do means you and I have to take money out of our paycheck, actually the government takes it out of our paycheck and basically hands it to that college student. I don't know about you but in this environment, this economy, that's just not a good idea," said Laurence Nordvig with Richmond's Tea Party.

Nordvig says instead, government should give up funding student loans altogether.

"You'd have banks and other financial institutions that could compete and see who has the lowest rate," he suggested.

Whatever happens, there's a loud outcry from these students who say don't punish them from wanting to learn.

"How are you going to already put people in a bigger hole than they're already in?" asked student Ashton Porter-Williams.

A few years ago, during the recession - the federal government agreed to lock the interest rate at 3.4 % until 2012. Last year, lawmakers decided to extend that rate another year. Now, the time's come to re-visit it, and with the government looking to trim its budget, raising rates becomes one of the options now on the table.

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