Students have good news and bad news.
Let’s start with the good news. On June 29, Congress reached an agreement to keep student loan interest rates at 3.4 percent, two days before they were scheduled to double.
Then there’s the bad news. Lost in the discussion and exposure of the interest rates was an equally pressing issue with disastrous and far-reaching consequences: The federal government is removing the six-month interest grace period for student loans, undergraduate and graduate, and will no longer cover interest on graduate student loans.
Simply put, this is not fair to students. It’s hard enough to get a job straight out of college. A bachelor’s degree often is not enough. Losing the grace period, however, is a huge disincentive to go to graduate school. Many students can’t support that kind of financial burden. We are already in debt from four years of college with increasing tuition; now we’ll have to pull out loans to cover our other loans.
It’s not right to change the rules in the middle of a race. Students and families made agreements — and now the government is coming in and breaching those agreements. At the very least, the change should not affect existing loans.
The whole situation seems shady and suspect. These changes took effect on June 1 but no fuss was made, nobody seemed to know it had happened. We wonder why the government was not more open about it and why it was absolutely necessary for them to do so in the first place.
Students should be talking about it. The government did not do a satisfactory job of informing the public, so, like everything else, it falls on the students to inform themselves and others. We should not let last week’s “victory” of interest rates not doubling cloud our perception. There are many more battles, and just because one went our way does not mean we should become complacent.
Higher education is supposed to be a big deal in the upcoming election. Show us. Talk about losing the grace period as much as not doubling loan interest rates. Put them on equal footing. Convince us you actually care.
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