Students loan rates are locked through July 1, 2016. Congress is expected to set rates for next school year in the spring. The increase won’t affect anyone who already has student loans but could affect future borrowers, said Michael Scott, TCU’s director of financial aid.
Roughly 40 percent of TCU students graduate with student loan debt each year, and for the 2015 graduating class, the average debt was $34,000, Scott said.
It’s too early to tell if federal loans issued next year will have a different rate because of the increase, said Ken Martin, the chief financial officer of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, which advises the state legislature on policy and offers state level student loans.
While it is reasonable to expect that rates would go up for borrowers taking out new loans next year, no one can be certain, Martin said.
Congress bases its decision on interest rates off of ever changing financial market conditions, according to the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act of 2013.
“It really depends on market conditions in the spring when the department of education changes its rates,” Martin said. “There is a lot of variability and a lot of factors that make it difficult to know where those rates will fall in spring.”
The Federal Open Market Committee, a 12-member branch of the Federal Reserve responsible for overseeing open market operations, decided last month to raise interest rates for the first time in nearly a decade.
Federal rates went to zero percent after the Great Recession of 2008, and are now at .25 percent. The decision will give savers a boost in interest on their bank accounts, while making it more expensive to borrow money for things like mortgages, car payments or student loans.