Assemblywoman and congressional candidate Grace Meng stood in front of on Tuesday to raise her voice on an issue that is rapidly becoming a political football — student loan interest rates.
With federal Stafford loan interest rates about to spike from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent, Meng said the time was now to act. Stafford loans are a special group of federally subsidized loans that are available to students across the country.
She spoke at roughly the same time that President Barack Obama was taking to the stage in North Carolina on the same subject. Flanked by parents and students, the assemblywoman said she would work to prevent those interest rates from jumping.
“American students owe more than $1 trillion in school loans — that’s more than credit card debt nationally,” Meng said. “If we do not prevent the doubling of these interest rates, it would be a direct attack on these students who are our future leaders in this country.”
Kathy Huang, a parent of a Forest Hills High School student, said the idea that home mortgage rates could be lower than student loan rates was a nightmare for young people.
“Student loan interest shouldn’t be double what you can get a home mortgage for,” Huang said. “That’s exactly the sort of misplaced priorities that nearly wrecked our economy.”
Patrick Jordan, a Queensboro Community College student, said student loan interest rates had been a huge source of anxiety for him over the last several months.
“With the way college costs, and the way student loans exist, I’m probably going to be paying those off until I’m 30,” Jordan said. “I want to be able to start my life, but with the way the student debt crisis is lining up, I won’t be able to afford a home because it will be a choice between a great education and a house.”
Meng urged Congress to pass House Resolution 3826, which would permanently set the interest rate on Stafford loans at 3.4 percent.