Student loan interest rates are on track to double next month after the Senate failed to come to an agreement last night on Capitol Hill.
Competing versions in the Senate failed to receive 60 votes, which were needed on procedural votes. As a result, unless an agreement is reached, rates on subsidized Stafford loans will increase on July 1 from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent.
The increase would affect about seven million college students taking out new loans.
Thursday, Senate democrats blocked a proposal from Senator Richard Burr (R-N.C.). The Comprehensive Student Loan Protection Act would lower and fix interest rates for 100 percent of newly issued student loans.
"It is clear that [Senate democrats] would rather have a made-for-television political fight on this issue rather than a resolution," Burr said. "I, on the other hand, stand willing to work with my colleagues for what should be a no-brainer for students, parents and taxpayers."
More than half of all students in North Carolina graduate with some debt. The average debt is $21,000 in student loans.
"I think that's the biggest burden we have after we graduate. Are we going to get the job? Are we going to be able to pay off this debt? That's my concern at least," said NCSU student Leah Falkowski.
NCSU math and engineering student David Smith says his chosen career path will likely take him more than five years to graduate.
"So I might be racking up some debt soon. There's definitely a lot of pressure right now with the way that the economy is going, and nobody knows what is going to happen in the future," Smith said.
Certified Financial Planner J.D. Gidley says if rates double next month, the average North Carolina graduate will have to take an extra two and a half years to pay off student loans.
"Whatever solution ends up happening, obviously, if there is a higher rate you're paying for those loans, then the longer it's going to take to pay it off as well as the more it's going to cost you," Gidley said. "So it's very important to limit the amount you take out for student loans through budgeting, working or getting an extra roommate."
The unemployment rate is still considerably lower for people with a college education. It's estimated that over the course of their career, graduates will earn as much as one million dollars more than those without a degree.