LIVE: Obama to speak at UNC on student loan interest rates

Students pack into Carmichael, anxiously anticipating the president's arrival.

Photo by Carter McCall / reesenews

Carmichael Arena at UNC is filling up Tuesday morning in anticipation of President Obama’s speech scheduled to start at 1:05 p.m.

Twitter users reported long lines outside the arena wrapping around the law school building and the Parker dormitory, but students said the lines moved really quickly.

Sophomore Chris Breedlove said it only took about 30 minutes for him and his friends to get from Parker dormitory to Hooker Fields.

“It only seemed like 15, though,” he said, laughing. “Our secret to success is that we did Mad-Libs to keep ourselves entertained.”

Watch President Obama’s speech

A woman waits in Carmichael arena for President Obama to begin speaking. Carter McCall/reesenews

Students sit on the floor of Carmichael arena waiting for Obama to begin speaking. Carter McCall/reesenews

Students wait for Obama to begin speaking. Carter McCall/reesenews

Obama will talk about student interest rates as he campaigns for an extension of the low rates. Click for more on student interest rates.

Watch Air Force One’s arrival at RDU airport

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On July 1, federal student loan interest rates are scheduled to double to 6.8 percent with the expiration of the College Cost Reduction and Access Act that was passed in 2007. The act gradually lowered interest rates on subsidized undergraduate student loans, also known as subsidized Stafford loans, to 3.4 percent in the year ending July 1, 2012. These loans are given out to students who prove financial need.

One reason these subsidized federal loans are attractive to students is because the federal government pays the interest on these loans until six months after the student is no longer enrolled in school at least half-time. This allows recent graduates a grace period to find a job and a source of income before interest payments are due.

UNC-Chapel Hill students will be facing a campus-average 9.9 percent tuition increase for the 2012-13 school year.

With graduates entering a workforce with more than 2 million unemployed workers ages 20- to 24-years-old, according to a March 2012 report of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the cost of tuition rising, the pressure is on Congress to act one way or another on the expiring bill.

While allowing the 3.4 percent student loan interest rate to expire would save undergraduates money, the lower rate means the government is collecting less money. During the 2012 fiscal year, the federal government will bring in about $2.4 billion less with the interest rate at 3.4 percent than it would have at a 6.8 percent interest rate, according to a report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

As the president speaks about interest rates at UNC’s campus Tuesday, reesenews will be covering the talk. Follow @reesenow on Twitter for live tweets during the talk and check back for a recap after the speech.

Related:

Obama’s UNC visit plays into swing state campaign strategy (reesenews)

As senator, Obama missed votes on student loan bill he wants to extend (Politico)

Student loan interest rates loom as political battle (The New York Times)

Romney supporters to rally Tuesday (reesenews)

Romney backs extending low interest rates on student loans (The New York Times)

  1. Perfect

    Comment by Nancy on April 24, 2012 at 5:51 pm