The UCSB chapter of CALPIRG will hold a rally today at 11 a.m. in the Arbor as part of a nationwide student movement in opposition to the potential doubling of many federal student loan interest rates that is currently set to take place on July 1.
The goal of the event is to call upon President Obama and Congress to put a stop to the potential hike by encouraging students to pen letters to congressional representatives, putting together a “photo petition” and holding signs and balloons with the slogan, “Don’t inflate my rate.” The event will also include a press conference featuring Associated Students President Sophia Armen, External Vice President of Statewide Affairs Nadim Houssain, UCSB CALPIRG Chapter Chair Rob Holland and student loan holder Heather Gould, who will speak about her own experiences with student debt.
According to student organizer Kat Lockwood, the campaign is part of a nationwide collaboration between PIRG chapters from 25 different states along with the United States Student Association and its state-specific affiliate, the UC Student Association. Lockwood said while President Obama’s budget request could have done more to extend lower rates, the primary target of the lobbying is Congress, since they make the final decision.
“Right now there is Obama’s budget plan, but Congress is going to ultimately make the budget and they are the ones who have to act if we want to stop student loan interest rates from doubling,” Lock wood said.
According to Holland, if Congress does not act, interest rates on federally subsidized Stafford student loans will increase from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent, costing students an average of $1,000 more over the course of their loan.
Holland said despite student groups’ persistent campaigning against the increase, President Obama’s budget proposal — which was released yesterday — does not do enough to ensure the affordability of student loans.
“Last summer, we convinced Republicans and Democrats to agree to stop student loan interest rates from doubling,” Holland said. “We delivered more than 100,000 letters to congress to stop the rate hike — saving seven million students an average of $1,000 in loan repayments, but today President Obama released his budget and we know now that it does not do nearly enough to protect students from their loans increasing.”
— Staff Report