My name is Sampson Armstrong III. Iím a finance student at Howard University about to go into my second year. Iím doing well, studying hard and working to help pay for school. Early on, my family and I placed my education as our highest priority, and Iíve worked very hard and have been very fortunate to get to where I am. But in order to be able to attend Howard University, I have to take out the maximum amount of federal subsidized Stafford and federal unsubsidized Stafford loans each semester, and my parents did not qualify for any loans. In total we will owe about $60,000 by the end of this upcoming school year.
We will continue to rely on these loans until I finish my degree. Iím thankful for my opportunities, but I know that taking on these loans was a huge decision for my family and me, even though we knew that college was an investment that we had to make.
Last year, Congress came together on a one-year solution to keep interest rates low for students, but once again, interest rates on new federal subsidized Stafford loans are about to double. That makes me very worried.
There are more than 7 million students across the country that take out these loans who are just like me: We care about how much it costs to pay for school and we need interest rates to stay low so we arenít burdened even more for years to come. If Congress lets interest rates double on July 1, weíll pay an extra $1,000 for each year of college over the life of the loan. That money adds up, and we definitely feel the pain. Taking out loans is already a tough choice and a daunting thing for so many families. As the July 1 deadline gets closer, my family and I arenít sure what other hard decisions we will have to make to continue my education.
Paying for college isnít easy for most people, and it shouldnít be made harder for those of us already struggling. Thatís why I urge Congress to get behind the Student Loan Affordability Act, to keep interest rates low for two more years. We canít let interest rates rise for students now, and we canít accept a costlier system for students down the line.
Members of Congress who support variable interest rate proposals without low caps probably mean well. But they should also know that students across the country will all be paying more under these plans in just a few years. Many would be paying more than if interest rates are allowed to double. This shouldnít be the case.
Make no mistake: Students are tired of having to wage this fight every year when we should be doing more to fix rising student loan debt and the skyrocketing cost of college. We can and should get to a comprehensive solution that works for students. There just isnít a plan on the table that does this.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.