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College price tag could increase for middle to low-income students

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If Congress doesn't act in the next few months, college students could soon be paying more for student loans.

Any low and middle income students who get subsidized Stafford loans after July 1 would see a rate increase.

The current rate is just 3.4 percent, but it will double to 6.8 percent unless Congress extends the current rate cut.

John Wood Community College Director of Financial Aid Melanie Lechtenberg says it won't affect students immediately, but it will hurt when it comes time to pay them back shortly after graduation.

"They start to look at that interest or they start to look at the loan payback then they would be facing maybe a higher payment at that time," said Lechtenberg.

John Wood sophomore Rebecca McCollum has a Stafford loan and says she is trying to plan ahead.

"Work a little bit harder on alternative funding. Be it scholarships, grant money," said McCollum.

For students who make good financial decisions, Lechtenberg says the sting doesn't have to be so sharp.

"We always advise them to make sure that you're only borrowing and taking out student loan debt that you really need for your educational purposes," said Lechtenberg.

Lechtenberg stresses that buying things aren't necessities with loan money can cause a student to swim in debt once they get out.

Unless Congress extends the current rate for another year, the subsidized Stafford loan interest rates will bounce back up for any new loan taken out beginning July 1.

A congressional house committee is currently debating the issue.

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