Congressman Jim Himes (D-4) held a press conference at the University of Connecticut Stamford Monday morning calling for an extension to student loan subsidies that are set to expire July 1, effectively doubling the current interest rates on Stafford loans.
Current interest rates under the subsidy are set at 3.4-percent, but would jump to 6.8-percent after the expiration of the current funding, which runs at about $6 billion annually.
"That's an average increase of $1,000-per-year in what it means to service those loans," said Himes, who said those additional funds are only compounded by an troubled job market. "Not only do you face the uncertainty of getting a job, you're also going to owe more."
Southern Connecticut State University student Melanie Sabol, 19, of Shelton, joined Himes on stage and shared her story and some statistics.
"We students can't really afford to pay [for school] any other way [than through student loans.]" Sabol said."We need a good education—an education that we can afford. Waiting until the middle of summer to know what my loans will be this fall means I have to wait to make plans for school next year."
Himes stood the $6 billion annual assistance to student loan payments against the $800 billion budget spent on defense, national security and the war in Afghanistan, saying the student loan assistance was comparably less than 1-percent.
"How can our students be expected to be economically productive," Himes said after his time on stage. "How can that student be expected to start that business that employs others with this type of debt hanging over them? Once the economy improves, those with a higher education will be in better shape than those without one to keep our country growing."
Himes is a cosponsor of H.R. 3826 with U.S. Representative Joseph Courtney, which would permanently extend the current rate.