Gridlock in Washington not helping worries over student loans, doubling interest rates

Partisan gridlock in Washington has led to fresh worries for millions of Americans with student loans as interest rates prepare to double this summer.

Interest rates on student loans are expected to rise to 6.8 percent on July 1 unless Republicans and Democrats take action in Congress.

"The day you dream about is passing the bar and knowing that you're a member, but when you have that and you don't yet have a job, there's still something missing," said MaryEllen Farrell, a graduate of the Thomas M. Cooley Law School.

Farrell was one of dozens of college graduates admitted to The Florida Bar this week.

She, like others, are concerned.

"I have a lot of friends who weren't able to find a job and are dealing with the stresses of having their loan payments due and trying to figure out how they're going to take their next step," she said.

That next step is up in the air since there are more new attorneys in South Florida than there are jobs for them.

And there's this harsh reality: an already expensive education -- some recent law school graduates owe upwards of $150,000 in student loans -- is about to get more expensive if interest rates double.

There is some agreement in Washington, but this week, partisan gridlock in Congress stopped action to prevent interest rates from going up.

The president wanted to stop the rates from doubling by taxing higher income earners.

Republicans wanted to stop it by pulling funds from health care reform.

Graduate such such as Farrell are caught in the middle.

"It's extremely stressful. It's hard," she said. "I have a lot of friends who call me and they need consoling because, what do you do when you don't know what's coming?"

Nationwide, Americans owe more in student loans than credit cards.

In Florida, half of all college students graduate with debt.

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