Congressman Smith released the following statement after interest rates on federally backed Stafford student loans doubled today from 3.4 to 6.8 percent:

“Providing our youth with access to higher education is a necessary investment in the future health and prosperity of our country.  Federally backed student loans offer essential support and provide opportunities for hard-working families and talented students who are struggling to pay for college. At a time when private loan interest rates are increasing and college tuition is skyrocketing, we need to be looking for ways to make college more affordable.  Unfortunately, due to inaction in Congress, federally backed Stafford student loan interest rates doubled today from 3.4 to 6.8 percent.  

“The doubling of the interest rate is estimated to cost an additional $2,600 for each student who takes on these loans. It cannot be our policy to seek a balanced budget by increasing the burden of debt for aspiring college graduates, especially when this year alone the Department of Education expects to take in a profit of $51 billion from interest on student loans.  We need to do better for our students.  I cosponsored legislation offered by Representative Courtney that would extend the 3.4 percent interest rates for another two years.  This would give relief to students, while allowing Congress to focus on reauthorizing the Higher Education Act and pass a long-term financing plan for student loans that families and students can rely on.”