By Anna Meany–
The growing tension of college students and recent graduates seeking to pay off their loans has become the motivation for Campus Progress, an online group that calls themselves “young people working for progressive change.”
In pursuit of higher education, many students are forced to take out federal and private loans to pay for schooling. Unfortunately, these loans haunt students with rising interest rates and a lack of jobs that can pay off this debt.
Campus Progress, based at campusprogress.org, is leading the fight against student loans and debt, offering webinars and campus events to spread awareness about refinancing, what they call a “pragmatic solution” to this exponential problem.
Refinancing allows those with loans to pay with a lower interest rate than originally agreed. According to campusprogress.org, student interest rates remain at a very high 6.8%, while other federal loans are at an all-time low.
Campus Progress cited the amount of US student debt at $1 trillion.
“I guess I don’t think about my loans that much, but I will have to deal with them eventually,” said Cally Tecket, sophomore Education major at U of L.
Government student loans are allocated after submission of the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and are determined by the student’s financial need.
Campus Progress uses the phrase ‘It’s our interest’, a play-on words, using the words to signify the interest of the loan and student awareness of their future debt.
A report released on Jan. 14 by Campus Progress deputy director Tobin Van Ostern warns that if students make the mistake of taking on too little in student loans, they will be forced to seek other ways of paying off the rest of college. Some turn to credit cards, which, with higher interest rates than those of credit-controlled student loans, rack up the cost of college much more quickly.
In a recent webinar, Campus Progress said “It is in the nation’s best economic interest to ensure that students are able to make timely payments on their loans, and it’s time for federal policymakers to take action.”
They were sure to point out the dangers in privatized loans, which oftentimes have double the interest rates as federal loans. Campus Progress urges their readers to take advantage of refinancing because it allows more money flow in the economy.
Tecket said all of her student loans were government-funded, and she had received them through the Univeristy after submitting the FAFSA.
Shelby Stafford, junior Photography major at U of L, said “I’m worried about finding a job right out of college. I’m a photography major – I’m not sure how quickly I’ll be able to pay off my loans. I’d love to learn more about refinancing if that would help me in the future.”
The Financial Aid office at U of L offers Direct loans that are funded by the government – they include subsidized (interest paid by the government) and unsubsidized (interest is charged until the loan in its entirety is paid). Their website mentions that students may also utilize loans available from “a bank or lending institution.”
Campus Progress continued their webinar, saying “we should enact meaningful reforms that include an interest-rate reduction and that provide a way for private-loan borrowers to consolidate their debt into the federal student loan program or otherwise modify the terms of their loans.”
To this group, awareness and activism are two key endeavors that will encourage government lawmakers to pass legislation in support of college grads trying to pay off their student debt as quickly as possible.
Stafford added, “It’s not like I had any choice. Having a degree is absolutely necessary for me to be successful.”
Photo by Andrew Nathan/The Louisville Cardinal