July 1st has come and gone, and the much discussed deadline has passed. Congress is in recess. This Fourth of July weekend, members of Congress will look to the sky to watch the fireworks explode and will celebrate their independence and freedom, while students across the nation look to the sky in hope only to see their financial futures exploding, further dependence on government aid, and the shackles of debt obligations growing heavier.
Although the House was able to come to an agreement on the student loan crisis, the Senate was unable to rise to the challenge. Instead, the Senate broke for recess, leaving the issue at a stalemate. Consequently, without a bill passage, the student loan rates for Direct Federal Loans will now double from 3.4% to 6.8%; a hefty and unwelcome change to students hoping to brighten their futures with an undergraduate or graduate education.
Unless Congress acts after the break, these rates are locked in. A few reconciliatory attempts have been made, but seemingly lack luster. For instance, Senate Democrats are leaning toward a one-year extension, maintaining the pre-July 1st rates, while Congress takes the year to finally figure this thing out. Déjà vu? Yes. Lately, the hurry up-and-wait method has been quite popular on The Hill. Remember the deficit crisis and the “fiscal cliff?” How many times are we to play chicken before we get smacked down by a truck?
To truly celebrate this holiday weekend, remember those who fought for our freedom and use it as inspiration to fight for your fiscal freedom. You may not be armed with bayonets and cannons, but you do have your words. Like “they” always say, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” In terms of today, I assume a key stroke is just as mighty – write emails to your congressmen, blog or even reach out with social media blasts. Check back every Wednesday for more on this issue and other student-related topics.
Happy Fourth of July!
Jenny L. MaxeyAuthor of Barrister on a Budget