(President Barack Obama, joined by college students, speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Friday, May 31, 2013, where he called on Congress to keep federally subsidized student loans rates from doubling on July 1.(AP Photo/Susan Walsh))

Obama: Keep student loan rates down, higher ed should not be luxury for “privileged”

Like so many other students around the country, Austin Rodriguez has taken out federal loans to help pay for college, about $20,000 in all. Rodriguez, who will start his Senior year at the University of Maryland, was at the White House, supporting President Obama‘s calls for Congress to take action before July 1st to ensure that federal loan rates do not double. Rodriguez, who volunteered for President Obama’s re-election and is studying political science, said this was the right thing to do.

“Right now I am currently roughly about 20,000 or so in debt to the loans,” said Rodriguez.  “If those go up, it is really going to be hard, I’m roughly looking at a 1,000 dollars or more that I have to pay when I get back, and I also want to go to law school too, so that’s going to be more loans,” added Rodriguez. “I definitely can’t afford to take that out of pocket so it is really going to affect me big time.”

The Obama administration has proposed decreasing new loans after July 1st, from a current rate of 3.4 percent to 2.9 percent for subsidized Stafford loans, and from 6.8 to 4.9 percent for unsubsidized Stafford borrowers. The Administration also proposes a Pay As You Earn (PAYE) loan repayment program for all student borrowers, not just new ones.  Under the proposal, borrowers who are in the workforce would not pay more than 10 percent of their discretionary income in loan payments.

RELATED: How to increase college Latino enrollment in 2013

The Administration says this contrasts from a Republican-led House proposal, HR1911, which allows student loan rates to increase by tying it to current interest rates.

“Higher education cannot be a luxury for the privileged few,” said the President. “The House bill is not smart, and it’s not fair.”

The debate comes at a time when more experts are noting less income diversity in the nation’s universities, as the New York Times writes.

“I know a lot of people who are middle-class or lower who can’t really afford college,” said Rodriguez.  “I know a friend this past year who couldn’t continue because he just couldn’t afford to take out another loan.”

%d bloggers like this: