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By Esmerelda Sanchez: 

Yesterday, student loan borrowers from across the country – myself included – gathered in Washington, DC to make noise and knock on doors to get Congress to stop the scheduled doubling of subsidized student loan interest rates come July 1st.  

Youth and consumer groups, led by Campus Progress in partnership with theI AM NOT A LOAN campaign organized “Student Debt Day 2013” to help college students and recent graduates share their individual stories about student debt in person and en masse to give voice to the more than 7 million borrowers who would be affected should Congress not act to prevent interest rates from doubling to 6.8% per year as of July 1st.

Our message was clear: “Don’t Double My Rate.”  Doubling subsidized student loan interest rates would affect low-to-middle income families who most depend on the college loan program to bridge the gap in financing higher education.  Increased interest rates would further deter students and families already averse to borrowing to pay for college from pursuing a postsecondary degree or from going to the school that’s the best academic fit for them.  

As a graduate student with both undergraduate and graduate school loans, the thought of future repayment attached to my accumulated debt is a constant worry.  But what worries me most are the future pathways of the hundreds of low-to-middle income youth I have worked with in various college access programs.  Bright kids like Patricia from Old East Dallas in Texas, a neighborhood known for its historic districts and high violent crime neighborhoods, who aspires to be a nurse and Juan who aspires to be a mechanical engineer to help his family live a better life. They want to go to college. Yet the very real psychological not to mention economic barrier associated with a doubling of interest rates is enough to shatter those dreams.

Yesterday, when I walked into the office of Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), I thought of Patricia and Juan and scores of others like them I’ve worked with over the years. I was their voice as were the dozens of other students present. 

Student movements have always had the power to change the course of history. Today, we moved.  Now it’s time for Congress to move in favor of our aspiring youth. Congress, please DON’T DOUBLE OUR RATES.

Cross-Posted at I AM NOT A LOAN.

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