By: Joncara Marshall (Whetstone Contrubtor)
Sophomore Darius Clark transferred to Wesley from Central Pennsylvania College last semester. A New Jersey native, he’s a legal studies major who plans to go into the police force.
Clark says he already owes $50,000 in loans, including a $20,000 loan from his previous school and $10,000 from Wesley. He is a little worried about paying them off, but thinks he will be able to.
“It depends on the job,” Clark said.
Clark along with more than half of Wesley college students may be paying back a lot more money than expected after graduation.
Stafford subsidized loan interest rates may rise this July from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent, adding thousands of dollars to an already high student debt. Loans used for this school year or before will not be affected.
Today’s rates have been part of 2007’s College Cost Reduction and Access Act, which ends in July. Congress will decide this summer whether to extend the reduction.
Shaun Brown, a junior business major, was aware of the potential increase, but says he is a not too worried about student loans.
“Just as long as I get the job I want and I am making the money that I need to pay it off, it shouldn’t be a problem,” Brown said.
Brown also says that he has a family that helps supports him.
In addition to the possible interest increase, the six month grace period to pay for loans will no longer be in effect.
On average, a four-year Wesley graduate will owe $28,368 in Direct Student Loan debts, said Eric Nelson, vice president of finance for the college.
Michael Hall, manager of the financial aid office, said he does not think Congress will stop the rate increase.
“They are hoping to reduce the national deficit,” he said. “They think that they have to do it.”
Hall said that the only good thing about the increase would be that students may think before taking out a loan.
Student aid is based on what the government expects a student’s family to pay (called the Expected Family Contribution or EFC), the cost of tuition and other expenses.
The Pell Grant still offers aid to low-income students.
Wesley each year sets aside money from donors for scholarships. This year the amount was less than $160,000. Students can also use websites such as scholarships.com and fastweb.com to search for outside scholarships.
Students can learn more about loans and other financial aid by going to studentaid.ed.gov, finaid.org or Wesley’s Financial Aid Office.
Also, students can call state representatives and senators to urge them to stop the increase. Numbers and email addresses for congress members can be found at www.senate.gov/senators and www.house.gov/representatives.