Schumer at RIT today to push legislation to keep student-loan rates down

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A. Sue Weisler

Sen. Charles Schumer during an earlier visit to RIT.

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer visited RIT today to announce his support for legislation to stave off an interest-rate increase for student loans that could raise the cost of attending college for thousands of Rochester-area students.

On July 1, the interest rates on federally subsidized Stafford loans will double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent, unless Congress takes action to block the rate increase that could add thousands of dollars in interest payments to the cost of attending college.

Joined by RIT President Bill Destler; Verna Hazen, assistant vice president and director of financial aid and scholarships; and students from RIT and other area colleges, Schumer backed legislation that would extend the 3.4 percent rate for one year and he urged Congress to take up legislation to make the extension permanent.

In 2007, Congress lowered the rate on federally subsidized Stafford loans—currently held by 8 million undergraduates nationally and more than a half million students in New York. But without an extension of the reduced rate, interest rates will double for students receiving these loans, driving up the cost of going to college for New York students as much as an additional $3,800 over a 10-year repayment period, Schumer says.