Congresswoman Lois Capps will attend a rally alongside stu- dents, including the newly elected Associated Students executives, pro- testing rising federal stu- dent loan interest rates at 1 p.m. today outside the Student Resource Building.
With the interest rate on Stafford Student loans set to jump from 3.4 to 6.8 percent on July 1, the demonstration intends to raise discussion on possible amendments to the existing lending structure. Capps is working with various campus groups to organize events such as next Wednesday’s phone bank, which will call on congressional representatives to take legislative action against the rising rates.
Congress passed the College Cost Reduction and Access Act in 2007, dropping interest rates on eligible federal student loans to 3.4 percent. However, the reduced rate will automati- cally increase to 6.8 percent unless the Higher Education Act of 1965 is amended.
Capp’s press secretary Ashley Schapitl said lawmakers are drafting amendments to the legislation that would divert money spent on subsidies for oil and gas companies toward easing students’ financial burden.
“Whenever Congress is looking to pass a measure that costs money, they need to find a corresponding offset for the spending,” Shapitl said. “The legislation that [Capps] has co-sponsored would keep the interest low by closing off some loopholes that oil and gas companies now enjoy.”
A.S. External Vice President for Statewide Affairs Ahmed Mostafa said the system exerts a greater pressure on finan- cially strapped students than those from other demographics.
“We want other students to know about this issue. Student loan debt is the highest debt category in the United States,” Mostafa said. “It is also the only type of debt that is unforgiv- able by bankruptcy.”
Third-year psychology major Steven Guzowski said sky- rocketing tuition further decreases the accessibility of univer- sity-level education.
“The people in charge keep giving us mixed messages when they raise the cost of going to school,” Guzowski said. “It’s like they want more and more people to go to college but less of us are able to pay for it.”
According to Schapitl, engaging in open communication with congressional representatives is integral to remedy the increasing fiscal responsibility placed on students.
“I think the biggest thing students can do is make their voices heard by contacting their hometown representatives and make sure they’re supportive of keeping the inter- est rates low,” Schapitl said. “Working in a congressional office, you certainly notice if there is a huge spike in calls on any one given issue.”
More information on today’s rally and the upcoming Week of Action is available at www.as.ucsb.edu.