Chelsea Ratterman, Assistant Editor
It was recently announced that the interest rate on Stafford student loans could be expected to double, from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent come July 1 with the expiration of a 2007 bill, unless action is taken. This could result in nearly $1,000 being added to payments of those receiving financial aid.
The Rose State College Financial Aid office, located upstairs in the Student Services building, helps students in need acquire federal, state or institutional assistance in the form of loans, grants, scholarships and work programs.
The rate hikes would not likely affect RSC as an institution. The government makes getting financial aid easier when the rates are higher, and they raise the loan amount.
There may not be changes in the application process, but new rules and eligibility requirements have already been made.
“If an applicant doesn’t have a GED or a high school diploma, they can no longer receive financial aid,” said Jay Mulanax, of the Financial Aid office, “ and new rules about frequently dropping classes or failing classes will make losing financial aid easier.”
Since the announcement, tuition and the futures of nearly 7.4 million college students have suddenly taken front stage in a publicly partisan Congress and on the campaign trail.
This is a wide turnaround from five years ago, when the original bill cutting rates passed with widely bipartisan support.
President Obama and Mitt Romney are both speaking about it, with Obama making a tour of college campuses speaking on the issue.
Two bills have been introduced to create a one year freeze on the loan rates, one from a Republican controlled House and the other from a Democrat controlled Senate.
The House bill would keep the rate the same for the next year, and would pay for it by redirecting funds from a part of the Affordable Care Act that is directed at a preventative health care fund.
The Senate bill would keep the rate the same by closing a tax loophole that allows some companies making over $250,000 to avoid paying Medicare payroll taxes in their earnings.
In April, the Oklahoma State Board of Regents held a public tuition hearing. It addressed the tuition and fee rates of the schools in Oklahoma, citing the slashing of state appropriations and rising enrollment as one of the reasons for rising costs. The limits on tuition and fee costs for fiscal year 2013 were presented, and nearly all showed an increase over fiscal year 2012.
These may not represent an increase in tuition and fees for Oklahoma schools, which will be determined later this year.