CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., announced on Friday he will urge Congress to pass legislation preventing interest rates on federal student loans from doubling on July 1. "College students everywhere are struggling to pay their student loan bills," Rockefeller said."The last thing we want to do to them is double the interest rate and force students into a bigger struggle to pay off loans. Thousands of West Virginia students and families are trying to pay off college debt."If Congress does not act by July 1, annual interest rates on federal student loans will jump from 3.4 percent up to 6.8 percent.
According to the non-partisan Congressional Research Service, 71,917 West Virginia students received $306 million in subsidized loans last year.Today, Americans have accumulated more than $870 billion in student loan debt.The average student graduating from college in 2010 owed about $25,250 in student loans, Rockefeller pointed out. Because of the tough economy, many have also had hard times finding jobs. Rockefeller has also backed legislation requiring private student loan lenders to give those students clear and accurate information about their loans.Unlike federal student loans, private student loans often have uncapped variable interest rates, which have recently spiked as high as 18 percent annually.