PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. - The growing problems surrounding college loan debt may soon become much worse if federal lawmakers do not stop student loan interest rates from doubling in July.
The staggering estimate of outstanding federal and private loan debt stands at more than one trillion dollars and counting.
Receiving a college diploma may come with the toughest lesson yet - learning to manage crushing student loan debt.
"It's hard to put it into perspective right now because of my situation," said Florida Atlantic University senior Casey Miller. He is talking about his soon-to-be financial situation. Miller owes a lot of money. "Maybe $80,000 to $100,000 after undergrad," he anticipates.
Six months after graduation, Miller's first payment of many will be due. "I'm probably going to have $800 or $900 a month," he said.
"I will probably be paying at least $200, if not more, a month - or at least trying to" said Arielle Newnam, an FAU senior. She will soon be looking at her first loan bill as well.
First, though, many debt-burdened students will be watching Washington, D.C. If congress does not act by July 1, interest rates on some student loans will double from 3.4% to 6.8%. It would cost about $5,000 more, on average, for the same loans of today.
"It's a really big issue and I think that kids coming to school don't actually realize how much money they are putting into it because you don't have to see the money that you are spending," said Miller.
Meanwhile, a new study by the Princeton Review found that high school seniors are more worried about student loan debt than being accepted to the college of their dreams. Of the students surveyed, 22% said being accepted into their school of choice was their biggest fear. 38% said that their biggest concern was the debt incurred by earning a degree.
"Overall, I have to pay $20,000," said Newnam, who has already started her job searching. "It's a reality that us college students have to face everyday now is how much debt we're taking out to advance ourselves in a career," she said.
Leaders in both parties say they want to avoid the doubling of interest rates. But, currently, neither side has money set aside to keep rates where they are now.