On a monthly basis, a typical payment would go up by about $8, according to FinAid.org.
As inconsequential as that might sound, Williams of US PIRG notes that the increase would come at a time when college costs are continuing to march steadily upward.
"It comes down to a death by a thousand cuts," Williams said.
HOW IT CAME ABOUT
Another aspect of the issue that gets lost in the uproar is that the 3.4 percent rate has only been in place for a year.
It's the result of legislation passed in 2007 on the eve of the financial crisis and was intended to help alleviate the cost of college. Rather than cut the rate in half right away, the legislation gradually lowered the rate to its current level over the past four years.
"Everyone's surprised that the interest rate is going to double. But we knew when this was going to occur," Kantrowitz said. "Like everything Congress does, it was for a short window."
Still, it comes full circle back to the reason for the legislation in the first place — reducing ballooning college costs. That's not a financial burden that has improved with time. It's why Williams of US PIRG thinks a one-year extension is a necessary stop gap.
"We need to buy some time to determine what the rate should be going forward," said Williams.
The House voted Friday to keep the rate from doubling, but the passage was largely symbolic because the package is going nowhere in the Democratic-dominated Senate. The Senate plans a vote when Congress returns from break next week. Since the Senate version has a different funding plan, the sides will need to hash out the differences.
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