This summer, new Stafford Loans were scheduled to double from the current 3.4% interest rate.
Congress had originally made a plan to double the interest rate five years ago, in an attempt to save
the government money. In the heat of an election year, both Democrats and Republicans voted to
delay this increase for another year. After writing my last blog post on the rising cost of tuition, I was
concerned that the interest rate doubling was going to negatively affect my decision for getting my
master’s degree in nursing. I am grateful that the interest rate did not in fact double this summer, but I
will still most likely be affected if it increases next year.
Again, student loans have become more and more of a necessity to pay for college. As prices are
inflated, student loans now cover the gap between what is projected the family will contribute, and
what the reality is within this economy. Many nursing students anticipate that with a career as a
registered nurse they will be able to pay off their student loans within a reasonable time frame.
However, with some new graduate nurses having a difficult time finding a job, plus worrying about
paying off their accumulated student loan debt, I am increasingly concerned about the effect on
potential nursing students choosing this path. The majority of hospitals no longer offer tuition
reimbursement or incentive packages for newly hired nurses, in an effort to save their own money. All
of these issues combined could be a deterrent for potential students.
Now, not only will the potential doubling of the Stafford Loan interest be discussed again next year, but
the Pell Grant will be under funding review also. It’s hard to imagine how many students would be able
to afford college with an increase in interest on their loans and without the support of the Pell Grant.
Stay tuned for a more in-depth discussion on Pell Grants next year.
I am curious how the potential interest rate hike will affect other nursing students. Specifically, how
will this increase affect new nursing students starting school in the fall? Will this deter your decision to
become a nurse? How do you feel about the decision Congress made to keep the interest loans from
doubling this summer?