At around $23,000, the average student debt is enough to buy a new car or put a down payment on a house. But that number could rise with interest rates set to double from 3.4% to 6.8%.
Senator Mary Landrieu (D) is fighting the hike.
“Loans are supposed to be there to help fill the gap and so those loan rates need to be responsible and fair,” said Landrieu.
And Landrieu says it's not fair to saddle students with the responsibility to fill the federal deficit gap, which is where the interest money will flow.
“We don't want students gauged to reduce the deficit. Students didn't cause the deficit and they're going to be the answer to the deficit,” said Landrieu.
It's new student orientation this week at University of Louisiana at Lafayette and it's the incoming class that will be affected by the higher interest rates.
As both a student and a parent of an incoming freshman at UL, Cynthia Antoine worries about the financial burden. Reliant on students loans, she worries debt will keep her son from following his dream career.
“I don't want his education to cost $100,000 and him graduate with a job that won't pay him that much,” said Antoine.
And that's a sentiment heard by Landrieu, who says a recent phone call from a concerned student stuck with her.
“They said, ‘Senator, when I went to college, I wanted a dream, not debt',” said Landrieu.
But debt is a reality for millions of people chasing after the almighty dollar—whether they like it or not.
“You know we always want our children to have more than we have to pursue a higher level of education,” said Antoine. “But, this is the price we have to pay.”