McCaskill meets with students on loan interest rate debate

Sen. Claire McCaskill met with MU students to talk student loans and interest rates.

Senator Claire McCaskill (D) met with University of Missouri graduate and undergraduate students Thursday about student loans and student loan interest rates.

This came the day before President Obama planned to urge lawmakers to find a solution to an automatic double in the interest rate for student loans.

The legislation that set the interest rate for federally subsidized loans to 3.4 percent will expire in July, automatically raising interest to 6.8 percent.

McCaskill is a co-sponsor of the Bank on Students Loan Fairness Act, which would set the interest rate of subsidized Stafford loans equal to the interest rate offered to big Wall Street banks.

"If we are making it easy for financial institutions to access capital that belongs to the United States, we ought to make it as easy for students to access capital that belongs to the United States," McCaskill said.

Right now, banks are offered an interest rate of just .75 percent.

Earlier this week the U.S. House passed legislation that would allow interest rates to vary year-to-year. McCaskill voiced her disapproval for this measure.

"When a young person is taking out a loan to get a higher education they want to be able to plan, what is that loan going to cost them, and i think if you don't know for sure what it's going to cost you that might be a deterrent for some people actually agreeing to take out the loan," she said.

Senator Roy Blunt (R) said in a written statement to KRCG 13:

"We can all agree that every young American should have the opportunity to achieve a college education. While President Obama appears more interested in staging campaign-style events to stir up partisan divisions in Washington, I believe we should work together to achieve a bipartisan, common-sense solution that will provide permanent reform to help young Americans avoid a higher interest rate on their student loans."

Graduate students at the forum asked McCaskill what she intended to do for graduate student loans, which would not be affected by her legislation.

"Legislators in Washington feel that 6.8 percent is too high for undergraduate students but don't see how that's a little bit hypocritical because we are already paying 6.8 percent," third-year law student Salama Gallimore said.

"And we have to pay more to get our degrees because professional credits are often two-to-three times more expensive than undergraduate credits."

McCaskill said the grad students spoke clearly and persuasively, and she vowed to bring their concerns back to Washington.

"If we're going to compete globally then we have to make sure that even that next degree is possible for young people who don't have the financial resources to fund it," McCaskill said.