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 December 19, 2014 18:50 GMT

SONY HACK

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The FBI says it has enough evidence to conclude that North Korea was behind the hack attack against Sony Pictures Entertainment.

An FBI statement cites, among other factors, technical similarities between the Sony break-in and past "malicious cyber activity" linked directly to North Korea.

The Sony attack, reported late November, involved the use of destructive malware that caused the studio to take its entire computer network offline and left thousands of computers inoperable.

The breach resulted in the disclosure of tens of thousands of leaked emails and other materials. It later escalated to terrorist threats that promoted Sony to cancel the Christmas release of the movie "The Interview," a comedy about a plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The FBI statement says North Korea's actions "were intended to inflict significant harm on a U.S. business and suppress the right of American citizens to express themselves."

SONY HACK-MESSAGE FROM HACKERS

NEW YORK (AP) -- Hackers have sent a new email to Sony Pictures Entertainment, praising the studio as "very wise" to cancel the release of "The Interview" and saying Sony's data is safe "as long as you make no more trouble."

The email was confirmed Friday by a person close to the studio who requested anonymity because the person wasn't authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

The message warned to "never" release the film "in any form," including on DVD. The email was sent to several employees of the Culver City, California company.

The Obama administration on Friday formally accused the North Korean government of being responsible for the devastating hacking attack.

T-MOBILE-CRAMMING SETTLEMENT

WASHINGTON (AP) -- T-Mobile US will pay up to $90 million, mostly in refunds, for billing customers for cellphone text services they didn't order, under a settlement with federal regulators.

The Federal Trade Commission announced the agreement Friday with T-Mobile over billing for unauthorized charges, a practice known as "cramming." T-Mobile, the fourth-largest U.S. cellphone company, is paying refunds to affected customers plus $18 million in fines to the 50 states and the District of Columbia, and $4.5 million in fines to the Federal Communications Commission.

The FTC sued T-Mobile in July, accusing it of billing customers for subscriptions to text services like $9.99-per-month horoscopes or celebrity gossip updates that they didn't want or authorize.

T-Mobile collected 35 percent to 40 percent of the charges, the FTC alleges.

FED-VOLCKER RULE

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker is criticizing a decision to delay full implementation of a rule that bears his name and aims to curb banks' risky investments.

The Fed said Thursday that it would delay until July 2017 the deadline by which U.S. banks will have to sell off potentially volatile holdings in private equity, venture capital and hedge funds.

In a statement, Volcker calls it "striking that the world's leading investment bankers, noted for their cleverness and agility in advising clients" need to take so long to reorganize their own activities.

Volcker says the banks' real aim may be to delay implementation of the law until they can get it changed. Congress passed the Volcker Rule in an overhaul of financial regulations after the 2008 financial crisis.

STATE UNEMPLOYMENT

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Unemployment rates fell in 41 U.S. states in November and were unchanged in six more, reflecting healthy job gains across the country.

The Labor Department says unemployment rates rose in only three states: Connecticut, Louisiana, and Washington state.

Solid economic growth since the spring has encouraged more employers to step up hiring. The U.S. has added nearly 2.7 million jobs this year, the most since 1999. That has lowered unemployment rates in most of the country.

North Dakota's 2.7 percent unemployment rate was lowest in the nation. Mississippi's 7.3 percent rate was the highest.

The biggest job gains occurred in California, which added 90,100 jobs in November, followed by Florida, which gained 41,900. Texas added the third-most jobs, with 34,800.

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CHICAGO (AP) -- The average price for a gallon of gas has fallen below the $2.50 mark for the first time in about five years. Oil analyst Patrick DeHaan of GasBuddy.com says the price of gas has dropped 41 cents over the last month with the average now at $2.46 a gallon.

According to GasBuddy.com, Texas features the lowest gas price with a station in Keller selling fuel for $1.69.

DeHaan says while the price of gas should continue to fall as the year comes to a close, the rate will not be as dramatic since gas prices have just about matched the steep decline in oil prices.

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DETROIT (AP) -- Chrysler is recalling nearly 257,000 older Ram pickup trucks because the rear axle can seize or the drive shaft can fall off.

The recall covers Ram 1500 pickups from the 2005 model year.

Chrysler says in documents posted Friday by U.S. safety regulators that the rear-axle pinion nut can come loose. That can cause problems that make the trucks spin out of control.

The recall comes after an investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that began in June.

The agency found 15 complaints, including seven drivers who reported that the wheels locked at speeds over 50 miles per hour. At the time, no crashes or injuries were reported.

Dealers will install a fix at no cost to owners. The recall will begin in February.

CARAMEL APPLES-DEATHS

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Health officials say prepackaged caramel apples are linked to five deaths and more than two dozen illnesses in 10 states.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says investigators are trying to determine the specific brands that were involved. But consumers are being warned not to eat prepackaged caramel apples until more is known.

The CDC says it knows of 28 cases in which people were sickened by a form of bacterial food poisoning called listeria, with 26 hospitalized. They got sick between Oct. 17 and Nov. 27. CDC said it's possible other illnesses have occurred since then.

Two of the deaths were in Minnesota, according to state health officials. The CDC said the illnesses also occurred in Arizona, California, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin.

JUNO THERAPEUTICS-IPO

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of cancer treatment company Juno Therapeutics Inc. are surging 60 percent in their stock market debut.

Juno genetically engineers a patient's own white blood cells to find and kill cancer cells in the body. It says its clinical trials have shown evidence of tumors shrinking.

The Seattle-based company raised $264.5 million after selling more than 11 million shares at $24 per share. It plans to use the cash raised to continue trials and studies. The stock is listed on the Nasdaq stock market under ticker symbol "JUNO."

EARNS-BLACKBERRY

NEW YORK (AP) -- Blackberry reported an adjusted profit for its fiscal third quarter, surprising Wall Street.

The Canadian company's stock climbed almost 3 percent in Friday premarket trading.

For the period ended Nov. 29, the company lost $148 million, or 28 cents per share. That compares with a loss of $4.4 billion, or $8.37 per share, a year earlier.

Stripping out some charges, earnings were a penny per share.

Analysts polled by Zacks Investment Research predicted a loss of 6 cents per share.

Revenue declined to $793 million from $1.19 billion. Analysts were looking for $927.8 million, according to Zacks.

Blackberry Ltd. said that it continues to target sustainable adjusted profitability some time in fiscal 2016.

AMAZON-MACMILLAN

NEW YORK (AP) -- Another major publisher has reached a multiyear deal with Amazon.com.

Amazon and Macmillan CEO John Sargent confirmed this week that they had agreed to terms for both print and electronic books. The deal will allow Macmillan to set prices for e-books, an arrangement known as the "agency model," and appears similar to agreements Amazon reached in the past two months with Hachette Book Group and Simon & Schuster. Authors at Macmillan range from Jonathan Franzen and Hilary Mantel to Oprah Winfrey and Bill O'Reilly.

Both Macmillan and Hachette have had public feuds with Amazon over terms for e-books. In 2010, Amazon briefly removed "Buy' buttons for all Macmillan releases. For months in 2014, the retailer restricted availability and reduced discounts for numerous Hachette books.

THAILAND-US-BUMBLE BEE

BANGKOK (AP) -- Thai Union Frozen Products is acquiring Bumble Bee Seafoods, a major seller of canned tuna in the United States, for $1.5 billion.

The Thai company says Friday that the purchase of Bumble Bee, which is owned by private equity firm Lion Capital, should be completed by the second half of 2015,

Its statement said Thai Union has annual sales exceeding 100 billion baht ($3 billion), and San Diego-based Bumble Bee Seafoods generates annual sales of approximately $1 billion.

The Thai company already owns Chicken of the Sea, another major U.S. provider of packaged seafood.

CUBA-CIGARS

MIAMI (AP) -- The Cuban cigar is set to make its first legal appearance U.S. in years, with relaxed guidelines allowing travelers to return with a few in their suitcases. But the cigars won't roll into stores just yet, and owners say they aren't worried about business.

Some tobacco shops owners in Miami's Little Havana say most customers can't afford to travel to Cuba for cigars and won't do so regularly.

Licensed American travelers can return home with $100 in alcohol and tobacco products. Experts say that's three to 20 cigars.

Cigars brought back to the U.S. must be for personal use, not resale. If the U.S. embargo with Cuba is eventually lifted, many tobacconists say they'd welcome the change. They could add Cuban tobacco to their blends, and many believe they interest in cigars would increase.

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