Student Loan Rate of 6.8 Percent Wasn't Always So Scary

Some of the same groups that fought today's hike to 6.8 percent fought for that rate not long ago.

If you haven’t started saving, here’s a list of reminders and strategies to consider as the years go by

Interest rates on student loans have seen many changes over the last decade and a half.

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"Right now we have an affordability crisis, we have a student debt crisis, and that is something that will not help students," says Sophia Zaman, vice president of USSA.

Student debt levels are rising quickly. According to the New York Federal Reserve Bank, student loan debt stands at nearly $1 trillion, with average debt balances at nearly $25,000. Delinquencies on student debt have also surged past those on other types of debt.

U.S. PIRG and USSA are only two of many groups whose views on rates have shifted over the years, but they are indicative of the way political and economic context alike can alter what looks like the "right" rate for students to be paying.

[ALSO: Student Loans Rates Likely to Double Monday]

The various bills that have been introduced in the House and Senate have proposed a mix of solutions: variable rates and fixed rates, capped and uncapped, short- and long-term plans. Members could still agree to a fix once they come back from the July 4 break, meaning that while higher rates are worrisome, it may not yet be time to panic.

One more reason not to panic, says Delisle: the difference in monthly payments between a 3.4 percent and a 6.8 percent interest rate is not likely to make or break most graduates. Last year, before Congress extended the 3.4 percent rate, he calculated that the difference would only be around $9 per month on a $5,550 Stafford loan.

He also adds that government programs that cap payments can mean the current fight might not even change monthly payments for some borrowers.

"Borrowers who qualify for these loans coming up can have their loan payments capped as a percentage of their income. So then it really doesn't matter," he says.

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