Student loan interest rates

Updated: Saturday, August 3, 2013
Student loan interest rates story image
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - The numbers are staggering--of the 7 million or so students going to college in this country, 66 percent of them are on campus thanks to borrowed money.

With the failure of Congress on Wednesday to face down a problem that it knew was coming for a long time, the interest on new student loans has doubled.

Tonight in Tom's Corner, Tom Van Howe says our government not only doesn't see the little picture, it can't even imagine the bigger one.

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I understand that the men and women who make the decisions in our congress have a lot of work to do. I get it.

But it's gotten to a point where if something is truly important—it just doesn't get done.

It's embarrassing that the Senate knew for a year—a full year—that if it didn't do something, the cost of student loans would, on July 1st, go up.

So what did it do? It went home on vacation.

And guess what; interest rates went up from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent.

Hello?!

Then yesterday, the votes weren't there to come up with a temporary fix. No surprise. There were Senators looking for a permanent fix. They knew that going in.

Nonetheless, there was a lot of breathless posturing; a charade, if you will, to convey just how hard they were all working.

I don't think the rate will stay that high for very long. For one thing, it's bad politics. It could mean votes!

But what's missing is real conversation about the bigger picture.

I think we can all agree that the need for higher education has never been greater than now. The high-school-to-factory  syndrome is long gone.

Even those jobs now require more than high school can provide.

Continuing education is crucial to the future of our country. Its no longer a matter of "it would be nice," it's a matter of "we have to."

Trouble is, the cost of college and specialized training schools is cold-bloodedly expensive—up about 500 percent over the past 25 years. The cost of text books has tripled over the past ten years.

More and more moms and dads find it impossible to pay as they go, so two-thirds of all students now borrow to attend class.

Students can no longer pay their way with a part time job.

And the average student graduates with a debt of $28,000. But there are tens of thousands of students who graduate with  debt of up to $200,000 dollars.

Right now, Americans owe more than a trillion dollars on student loans. The second highest kind of consumer debt out there behind the mortgages.

And now for the hammer.

Lest you think students loans cost us money—last year, according to the government accounting office, the U.S. government collected $51 billion in interest payments. Fifty-one billion dollars!

Why in the world is the U.S. government making that kind of money off students who have yet to land a job?

A few months ago, freshman Senator Elizabeth Warren, of Massachusetts, suggested it might be wise to lower student loan interest rates to below one percent—the same rate that banks pay the federal reserve for short-term loans.

So simple, so reasonable, so doable.

But then—we're talking about Congress.

Making college degrees and technical certificates more affordable should be a national priority.

We need young graduates to be strong, competitive, and dynamic, just as the United States needs to be strong, competitive and dynamic.

The accumulating student debt is a drag on our economy—just think about how far those billions in interest payments could go in a world of starter houses, cars, and small business loans.

We've got lots of problems with higher education in this country. But setting a truly low, fixed interest rate, to encourage ambitious young people, instead of adding to their burdens, is a part of the answer.

Think about it.

In this corner...I'm Tom Van Howe.

Business News

Last Update on April 27, 2015 17:31 GMT

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Today's strike at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach comes after a weekend vote from the Teamsters, who say "several hundred" drivers from four companies are striking.

Some 16,000 truckers haul cargo, and the strike isn't expected to shut down all business at the ports.

The drivers are contractors for the trucking companies, but they're fighting to become company employees, saying it would mean better wages and workplace protections.

FEDERAL RESERVE

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Most economists say a still-subpar economy and low inflation will keep interest rates at record lows at least until September.

On Wednesday, the Fed could clarify its plans after ending its latest policy meeting. But analysts caution against expecting any specific guidance on the Fed's timetable for a rate hike.

Too many uncertainties still surround the U.S. economy and Fed's policymakers may want to leave themselves maneuvering room until their view of the economy's health becomes clearer.

For 6 1/2 years, the Federal Reserve has held its key interest rate near zero.

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Fitch downgrades Japan citing economic concerns

(UNDATED) -- Fitch Ratings is lowering Japan's credit rating as the country wrestles with staggering debt.

Fitch says the government did not include sufficient measures in its budget to replace a deferred tax increase this fiscal year, which ends next March.

Japan's debt is the largest among developed nations and more than twice the size of the economy.

The ratings agency downgraded Japan's long-term foreign and local currency issuer default ratings to "A" from "A+." It also lowered its senior unsecured foreign and local currency bonds ratings to "A" from "A+."

Fitch says that though Japan cut corporate tax rates in the current fiscal year, it wants to cut them again in the next year. It says those factors increased the ratings agency's uncertainty over Japan's political commitment to consolidation.

CHIPOTLE-GMO

NEW YORK (AP) -- Chipotle says it has completed phasing out genetically modified ingredients from its food.

The Denver-based chain had already been using mostly non-GMO ingredients, but said in late 2013 it was working on transitioning to a tortilla that did not use them.

Most of the country's corn and soybean crop is genetically modified to have certain traits like resistance to plant diseases.

The head of the Food and Drug Administration's food safety center has said the agency found no basis that GMOs pose any different safety concerns than foods developed by traditional plant breeding.

Chipotle Co-CEO Steve Ells has said the company felt it was best not to use GMOs given the "lack of consensus" about their effects.

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MOUNT LAUREL, N.J. (AP) -- Sun Bancorp Inc. (SNBC) is reporting first-quarter net income of $2.8 million, after reporting a loss in the same period a year earlier.

The Mount Laurel, New Jersey-based bank said today it had earnings of 15 cents per share.

The holding company for Sun National Bank posted revenue of $28.3 million in the period.

Sun Bancorp shares have climbed 3.5 percent since the beginning of the year.

RESTAURANT BRANDS-RESULTS

NEW YORK (AP) -- Restaurant Brands International Inc. is reporting adjusted earnings that beat analysts' expectations for the first-quarter as sales at its Burger King and Tim Hortons operations showed healthy growth. The Canadian company reports a loss of $8.1 million, or 4 cents per share. But it had earnings of 18 cents per share after adjusting for certain costs.

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DISCOVER-APPLE PAY

NEW YORK (AP) -- Discover credit cardholders in the U.S. are getting their Apple Pay.

After months of complaints from customers, Discover Financial Services announced today that it has reached an agreement with Apple Inc. that will let its cardholders make payments in participating stores through Apple Pay by using an iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus or Apple Watch.

With Apple Pay, credit card numbers are not stored on the device or on Apple servers. A unique device account number is assigned and each transaction is authorized with a one-time unique security code.

Discover customers will also be able to use Apple Pay with iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 when paying for goods and services within apps starting in the fall.

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