The U.S. Senate on Wednesday approved by the narrowest of margins deep cuts to federal student financial aid, which could send interest rates for student loans skyrocketing.
The vote, originally a 50-50 tie broken by Vice President Dick Cheney, approved $12.7 billion in cuts to federal aid for students. With less money to use, interest rates on loans from private lenders could climb several percentage points, critics said.
"Certainly, it's worrisome that students wouldn't be able to afford the loan rates," Stephanie Covington, associate director of Student Financial Aid at Kansas University said Wednesday.
Though the cuts wouldn't affect KU's ability to loan money because they lend government money directly, Covington said the climbing rates could scare away students who have been comfortable with low rates the past few years.
Jessica Molina, a KU junior, mirrored Covington's remarks. She said for those entering college on already shaky financial ground, the extra thousands they'll have to pay in interest could turn deter them.
"A lot of people don't go to college," she said. "They can't afford it."
Molina said the government should be concerned whenever it makes a decision that could deter would-be students. Education creates a safe, well-functioning society, she said, especially when a country educates its poor.
"They don't understand that this will come back to them in the long run," she said.
Currently, KU uses Department of Education money to help 10,000 students afford a college education.