4:24 pm
Fri July 12, 2013

Congress Does Little to Help Struggling College Students

For many in the U.S., by the time they pay for their college education, they could have bought a new, mid-size car.

A 2013 Honda Accord costs about $26,000. The average cost of four years at most American universities is about $27,000.
Credit wikimedia

In the United States, interest rates on some student loans have doubled to just under 7%. Wednesday, Senators on Capitol Hill  failed to pass a proposal to extend lower interest rates for some federal student loans. It would have reinstate for one year the 3.4% interest rate that expired the end of June, 2013. On July 1, the interest rate jumped to 6.8%.

Robert Muhammad is the Director of Scholarships and Financial Aid at Winston-Salem State University. He says the cost of a college education in the 2011-2012 academic year equaled that of a new, mid-size car. He also doesn't think politicians are considering the potential harm of making it harder for people to get a college education. "After four years of attending a college or university, the average student leaves with about $27,700 in debt nationally," says Muhammad. "Notice I said they 'leave'. They may not graduate and they still have that kind of debt." WSSU has an undergraduate student body of 5,962. According to Muhammad, 86% receive some kind of financial aid. He also says nationally, there is a growing number of families who are carrying a larger student loan debt than their consumer debt. Something Muhammad believes the national economy can not sustain. So he believes more families will change how they approach securing a college education. "As a matter of fact, now you see more students taking college courses in high school and this saves them a year of college educational costs," explains Muhammad. "We'll also see more students going to technical college for two years and then transferring to a four year institution." Muhammad is optimistic. He believes by this fall, interest rates on college student loans will drop back to 3.4%.

Robert Muhammad reacts to U.S. Senators not moving forward on a bill to lower the interest rate on some student loans.