Now Playing:

Stand for independent journalism
and powerful storytelling.

contribute now OPB


Think Out Loud

Student Loan Debt

Pete Springer/OPB

Congress agreed on Friday to extend the current student loan interest rate for another year. Rates were expected to double from 3.4 to 6.8 percent if the legislation wasn’t changed. But what does that mean for people with student loan debt? What about those who have already defaulted on private and federal loans?

A recent report (pdf) form the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) found that collection agencies contracted by the U.S. Department of Education might have made it even harder for borrowers to express their dissatisfaction.

NCLC Attorney Deanne Loonin contributed to the report and she told us the scope of the problem goes beyond the structure of the collection system and interest rates. Loonin says there needs to be a bigger shift, especially since there’s been a rise in nontraditional students. Now more than ever, people seeking higher education are older, financially independent, and even have kids of their own to take care of. This puts them at a different level of risk than the younger students, when it comes to defaulting on loans.

Do you have student loan debt? Have you co-signed for your children’s student loans? How has student debt affected your life? Have you dealt with federal loan collection agencies? 


  • Deanne Loonin: Attorney with the National Consumer Law Center 
  • Denise Emmerling-Baker: Public school teacher carrying student loan debt for herself as well as her son

higher education loan university

More Think Out Loud

More OPB

Join the Conversation

Send Think Out Loud A Message

OPB has updated its privacy policy. You can find details here.

Also This Hour

What's Next for Health Care?

OPB | Broadcast: July 2, 2012

Amped: A Technological Revolution

OPB | Broadcast: July 2, 2012