For college students teetering on a financial tightrope, the issue of loans just became a lot more complicated and troublesome – $18 billion worth of trouble, to be exact – although some lawmakers and media outlets would have you believe otherwise.
Up until now, undergraduate students have enjoyed a slightly-convenient-but-still-ridiculously-difficult-to-manage six month "grace period", during which the government holds off on requiring interest on their loans. But after Sunday, all of that will disappear.
Instead, students will be forced to start paying interest on their loans immediately after they throw their graduation caps in the air. In addition, graduate students will be expected to start paying off their loans during school.
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All of this comes as largely unpublicized news, as more attention has been focused on Congress’s year-long extension of the current 3.4 percent interest rate. The rate was originally set to double on July 1.
Even though these changes will stop the current rate from increasing, the immediacy of the law’s requirements will overshadow its benefits—siphoning an extra $18 billion from students' pockets over the next decade.
"It really makes the loans kind of unpredictable and hard to understand for students and families when these changes are happening through the budget process," Megan McClean, the managing director of policy and federal relations for the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, told The Chicago Tribune.
Welcome to college, where students rack up thousands of dollars in loans they don't have. What we mean to say is, welcome to a world of debt.