Klobuchar talks federal financial aid

The senator is co-sponsoring a bill to stop an increase in federal loan rates.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar talks and answers questions regarding the H1N1 Flu vaccine on Nov. 13, 2009. Klobuchar was on campus again Wednesday to talk about student loan debt.

Jason Kopp, Daily File Photo

Sen. Amy Klobuchar talks and answers questions regarding the H1N1 Flu vaccine on Nov. 13, 2009. Klobuchar was on campus again Wednesday to talk about student loan debt.

Greta Kaul

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., met with about 15 students Wednesday at Coffman Union for a roundtable discussion about federal financial aid.

The interest rates on federal Stafford loans is set to double — from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent — for more than 7 million students on July 1.

“You can rattle off a bunch of numbers but to have my colleagues and other members hear the stories of these students is more memorable and makes a difference,” Klobuchar said in an interview. “I took good notes.”

On average, University of Minnesota Bachelor-degree graduates left school with about $27,000 in student loan debt last year.

Both President Barack Obama and likely Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney support a proposal to cap the Stafford loan interest rate at 3.4 percent for another year. Klobuchar is a Senate co-sponsor of the bill to do so.

She said it helps that students are galvanized on the issue — especially on the Internet.

“That’s why I think you’re starting to see it becoming an issue in the presidential race and in Congress — not just swept under the rug.”

Debt from student loans is nearing $1 trillion and has surpassed the amount of Americans’ credit card debt, according to FinAid.org, a site that provides student financial aid information.

Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education Robert McMaster, director of Academic Support Services Julie Selander and director of Student Finance Kris Wright joined Klobuchar at the roundtable.