The Woodward News

June 7, 2013

Local college officials discuss loan issue

Rachael Van Horn
Woodward News

Woodward, Okla. — As the rising cost of government subsidized student loans joins the growing number of political issues which Republicans and Democrats refuse to solve together, local university officials remain positive.

"We are still hopeful that some compromise will be reached before the deadline," said Steve Valencia, spokesman for Northwestern Oklahoma State University.

Politicians have until July 1 to agree to extend the current 3.4 percent rate on governmentally subsidized loans or the rate will double to 6.8 percent.

But as of Thursday, while the debate heated up in the Senate and then deadlocked, the issue remained unsolved.

If there is no decision, freshmen who plan on using subsidized loans throughout their undergraduate education, will need to plan better how to make what will be higher payments upon graduation, when the interest begins, said Matt Short, Oklahoma State University Associate Director of Financial Aid.

"I do not think that this rate hike will increase default," Short said. "I do think it will make it more expensive for our students to go here."

As for how much more, he said "it could be a few dollars, it could be $1,000."

But what any single student might pay extra, depends on a variety of factors, including how much they borrow, how long they take to pay the loans back, as well as whether they had any previous loans with the 3.4 percent rate.

While the rate hike will obviously cramp some students here, the majority of local students attending NWOSU seem to be insulated somewhat from the impact, Valencia said.

"A full 57 percent of our students who graduate here leave with no student debt," Valencia said. "We attribute that to our very generous scholarship programs."

Also, an Alva sales tax which generates funds for the college based on student residency in the community as well as a very robust support program from alumni all work together to defray the cost of education at NWOSU, he said.

"The U.S. News and World Report rated us as the lowest campus living costs in the nation," Valencia added. "With all of those considerations, our students are less likely to incur debt."