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Bay Area students may be losers in political game over student loans

5:17 PM, May 1, 2012   |    comments
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ST. PETERSBURG, Florida -- The clock is ticking on Congress to come up with a plan to prevent student loan interest rates from doubling.

On July 1, the College Cost Reduction and Access Act, passed in 2007, is set to expire, raising rates on federal loans from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent.

For Melissa Depasquale, a student at the University of South Florida's St. Petersburg campus, it could be a huge setback to her goal of going to law school after graduation. "It would have a massive effect on me.  I mean, I'm going to my grave with these loans," she explained.

Without an extension, college will get more expensive for seven million students.

Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL) held a press conference on Monday highlighting a 61-day countdown until the deadline, stressing the need to get a deal done.

"I urge all my colleagues in Washington to get a move on," Castor said.

Yet on Friday, she voted against a bill that would have kept the interest rate from doubling. Castor says the problem with that Republican-backed proposal is it would have been paid for through Obamacare funds.

"There are a number of ways to get it done and folks need to set politics aside," she explained.

Most Republicans and Democrats seem to agree something needs to be done. What they can't find common ground on is how to pay for it.

A number of students fear they'll simply end up as the losers in the political game in Washington. "In my eyes it's always going to be political. There's nothing we can do about it," Depasquale said.

On Twitter, Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL) has used the words "stupid" and "fiasco" to describe various parts of the student loan situation.

President Obama has also said he would veto the same House bill passed last week that Castor voted against.

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