Grad students face even higher loan rates
Note: The author submitted this letter to U.S. Sens. Robert Casey, Pat Toomey, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Lou Barletta.
To the editor: There has been much in the news recently about the rise in rates for student loans. It is my understanding that Congress is moving toward keeping the Stafford loans for undergraduates at the previous rate of 3.4 percent instead of the new rate of 6.8 percent. This is all well and good, and hopefully this will pass and be retroactive without a lot of unnecessary rhetoric.
There is one area regarding students that seems to be overlooked by the esteemed members of Congress, and that involves graduate students.
One of the many attributes of my daughter, Cassandra Collier, is her altruistic nature. While a student at Susquehanna University, Selinsgrove, she volunteered to go to New Orleans to assist victims of Hurricane Katrina. After graduation, she joined AmeriCorps in the Boston area to help disadvantaged children. She then successfully applied for the Peace Corps and is just completing her two-year tour in Camoapa, Nicaragua.
I was fortunate enough to visit her twice and was impressed, but not surprised, by the friendships she made with both the children and adults in this extremely depressed village. Cassie endured the hardships of no indoor plumbing, limited sanitation and an entirely different lifestyle. Of course, she did all of this with an upbeat attitude that was noticed by the residents.
Cassie has been accepted as a graduate student at Harvard University. During her loan application process, she received what could be described as a cultural shock equal to going to Nicaragua, at least in her dad's eyes. The rate for her graduate student Stafford loan is 6.8 percent, with a 1 percent origination fee. Recall that everyone is up in arms because the rate for undergraduate students is 3. 4 percent and possibly going to 6.8 percent. She also applied for a Grad PLUS loan, and this rate is 7.9 percent, with a 4 percent origination fee.
I believe members of Congress should take into consideration that many graduate students have sacrificed several years of their young lives to make this a better world for those less fluorinate and have become good-will ambassadors for the United States. I sarcastically mentioned to Cassie that she should become a resident of a foreign country that snubs their noses at us, so that she would receive a free education and the undying gratitude of our nation.
In closing, I respectfully request that you give serious consideration to putting these graduate students on a level that is worthy of their service and showing them that their efforts are appreciated by this great country.