U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., held a press conference at DePaul on May 1 to voice his support for legislation pending in the Senate that would prevent federal student loan interest rates from increasing.
If the bill does not pass, interest rates on federal student loans will double on July 1. “As interest rates double, the cost of the loan increases for the students over $1,000,” Durbin says. "It's time for us to get it together.”
DePaul students joined Durbin in voicing their concerns during the press conference. Three students told news media gathered in the Lincoln Park Student Center meeting room that higher interest rates would make it more difficult for them to repay their loans.
The average student loan debt for DePaul students is $23,000. Paula Luff, DePaul's associate vice president for financial aid, compared that average to the cost of a new car—the big difference is cars depreciate in value over time while the value of a college degree grows.
DePaul students attend a great university with a great reputation, Durbin says. "Some students aren't so lucky," he says. Students attending for-profit universities receive large loans for degrees that won’t be as meaningful, or they use private loans to finance their college education, exposing them to double-digit interest rates, he says.
Durbin co-sponsored and introduced the legislation, known as the Stop the Student Loan Interest Rate Hike Act of 2012. It passed in the House of Representatives last week. The Senate is expected to consider the bill early this month.
Durbin chose to make his remarks at DePaul because he “knows that DePaul University is dedicated to an accessible and affordable college education,” says J.D. Bindenagel, vice president for Community, Government and International Affairs.