Federal student loan interest rates to double

Congressional inaction leads to Pocatello protest

Federal student loan interest rates to double

POCATELLO, Idaho - Congress has failed to act, so student loan interest rates will double the first of the month.

Friday, folks in Pocatello came out in protest.

They said the most important thing they want is to protect students who are already on hard financial times.

Cars driving by the corner of Oak St. and Yellowstone Ave. honked their horns to support the protesters.

"We all suffer the results of politics if we don't get involved," said Bannock County Democratic Party Chairman Dave Finkelnburg.

The results in this case being the increased student loan interest rates.

"We should invest in college students because they're our future," Finkelnburg said. "We shouldn't be trying to balance the budget on the backs of college students."

The doubling of interest rates would affect students by about $1,500 a year.

Former Idaho senator and Bannock County Assessor Diane Bilyeu revealed that some people employed by Congress are held to a different standard when it comes to their loans.

"Congressional staffers have their loans paid for them, at $6,000 or $9,000 a year, up to $40,000," Bilyeu explained.

This is an exception she is strongly opposed to.

"I just think what's good enough for our congressional staffers should be good enough for our college students," Bilyeu said.

Another aspect of this protest is in regards to Idaho's already-questioned education. Only one in three high school students goes on, and even then, Idaho is ranked No. 1 in college dropouts.

So what can you do?

"Citizens should contact their congressional people and say, 'Hey, this is unacceptable.'" said Bilyeu. "They should talk to those people that go to Washington."

In 2007, student loan debt totaled about $550 billion, but just in the first quarter of this year, student loan debt hit almost $1 trillion dollars.

If you are concerned about this situation and would like to take Diane Bilyeu's advice to write your senators, click here to find their contact information. 

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