With interest rates on some Stafford Student Loans set to double this summer, Rep. Peter Welch today met with Vermont college students in Rutland and pledged to block the increase.
On July 1, interest rates on Stafford Student Loans will rise from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. Welch played a crucial role in blocking a similar rate increase last year. To convince his colleagues in the House of the need for relief, he collected stories from Vermont students and families about the rising cost of college and explosion of student debt and shared them on the House floor.
"Middle class families are struggling to put their kids through college. At a time when interest rates are at an all time low, it makes no sense to double the interest rates on Stafford loans. Congress stepped up to the plate last year in a bipartisan effort and blocked this increase. It is imperative that we do so again so that higher education remains within reach for working families."
At the Community College of Vermont (CCV) in Rutland - the home of the late Sen. Robert Stafford (R-Vt.) for whom the Stafford Loans are named - Welch heard from students about the affordability of a college education. According to the New England Board of Higher Education, the cost of a public college education in Vermont has increased by 27 percent over the last five years. The Project on Student Debt estimates that 63 percent of Vermont college seniors hold debt, the average being just over $28,000.
Welch has been a House leader working to make college more affordable. Last year Welch introduced legislation to grant regulatory relief for colleges and curb tuition increases. Welch also introduced legislation this year to streamline the student financial aid application process.