Paying for the future ... now
Sen. Bob Casey's visit to Temple University this week offered some insight into the impact on students of Congress' failure to stop the doubling of rates on federally subsidized Stafford student loans.
At Temple alone, 21,000 students had Stafford loans last year worth $110 million. Unless Congress acts, the interest rate on those loans will double July 1, going from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent, costing students nearly $1,000 each in interest on the life of an average loan.
Meanwhile, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has added some perspective of her own. She has introduced a bill that would set subsidized student loan rate interest at the same rate applied to loans made by the Federal Reserve to the nation's banks, currently 0.74 percent.
The bill won't pass. And the types of loans are dramatically different. Banks borrow to cover cash shortfalls and typically pay back the loans within 24 hours. And the Fed requires collateral that it can seize if the loan isn't repaid.
Student loans aren't secured by collateral and usually have a 10-year term.
Still, Ms. Warren's bill raises the question of why the government demands more than four times the interest from students as it does from some of the world's largest banks, and is doing nothing as the difference is about to double.
Congress should forestall the scheduled rate increase to help students, and seek ways to mitigate the rising cost of higher education.