Student Loan Debate - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Student Loan Debate

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A $1.2 Trillion dollar debt.

That's the amount of unpaid federal student loans across the nation.

Senator Heidi Heitkamp hosted a round table discussion with Minot State University officials today looking for possible solutions.

Financial literacy before entering into college loan agreements, affordability for current students and refinancing options for existing debt were the three areas of council offered for Heitkamp's consideration.

Late July, the U.S. Senate passed a bill that will bring down interest rates for Stafford loans in the short-term.

Interest rates went up to 6.8 percent the first of July.

The interest rate is now fixed for the life of the loan at 3.9 percent for undergraduates and 5.4 percent for graduates.

The bill is written so that the interest rate will fluctuate with the U.S. Treasury 10-year borrowing rate, but is capped just over eight percent for undergraduates.

Heitkamp says the bill has been passed but can be reexamined in the near future.

(Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, (D) North Dakota) "Keep rates low for existing students and then what do we do for the $1.2 trillion dollars of student debt there is in this country. Think about that. The student loan fix that we just did isn't the end of it. The promise was that this discussion will continue, or a lot of us wouldn't have voted for it. We needed to do something because we were up against a deadline but this can't be the only thing we do."

Heitkamp says a typical ND student taking out loans this year will save $1400 over the life of those loans because of the interest rate change.

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