*Next week on May 8th the Senate will be voting on this issue. Call your Senator to let him or her know that they cannot allow the interest rate to double. Click here to get your Senator's numbers.Everyday, each congressional office brings out the editorial page from small towns across their district to see what issues matter to their voters. With a vote on student loan rates coming as early as next week, we want to make sure each Senator gets a letter from their home district.Five years ago, Congress slashed the interest rate on subsidized Stafford loans from 6.8% to 3.4%. Almost 8 million students use subsidized Stafford loans to pay for school and make it to graduation. But interest on Stafford loans will double this July if Congress doesn’t pass a plan to keep interest rates down. Without the new plan, students who borrow the maximum amount of subsidized Stafford loans could pay almost $5,000 more through the repayment of their loan.For the last couple months, Rebuild the Dream joined USPIRG, USSA, and Campus Progress to deliver Valentine grams from all over the country to deliver to members of Congress, calling on them to keep Stafford loan interest from doubling, getting coverage in Texas, Ohio, Michigan, and Virginia. A few weeks later, Rebuild the Dream members filled up the congressional phone lines with phone calls calling on Congress to extend the 3.4% rate.Rebuild the Dream has been campaigning on this issue since February. Our members wrote 130,000 letters to Congress, calling on them to keep Stafford loan interest rates from doubling. A few weeks later, Rebuild the Dream members filled up the congressional phone lines with phone calls calling on Congress to extend the 3.4% rate. We've been partnering and coordinating with U.S. PIRG, U.S. Student Assocation, Campus Progress, Credo Action and other groups in this campaign.In the stories they shared, people talked about their dreams:
My whole life, I was told that the only way to get a good job was to go to college. After attending a 4-year university and accumulating massive amounts of debt, I'm unable to find any job at all. Because of my student debt, I've had to put pretty much every plan for my future on hold... I've been so stifled by my financial worries that I feel like I'm not even allowed to dream about my future.
Amber T. from Massachusetts
The challenges they face in finding a job and making payments for their student debt:
I am a current student for a private career college. When I graduate, I will be in about $40,000+ worth of student loan debt. Once I graduate I do not know how I will make my loan payments and be able to keep a roof over my family's head when my degree in Medical Assisting will net me job starting out at about $15 an hour.
Stephanie O. from Florida
And their obstacles and triumphs:
I am a first-generation college student, from a working-class single parent home in south Louisiana. College was never really something that I saw in my future, mostly because it seemed so daunting for someone "like me;" everyone I knew in college had a stable family structure, they were financially more secure than my family, and they had parents who were in college before them... I am a recipient of Pell grants and several scholarships, but that still isn't enough. Therefore, I must take out student loans every semester.I don't want to have to choose between paying massive loan payments or providing for my children's needs.Keep an eye out for more student loan stories coming to a small time paper near you. To help submit your own student loan story, send your student loan story to your local paper using our Letter to the Editor tool and get your story published before the Senate votes on student loan interest rates.
Hope M. from Louisiana