NORMAN — Outstanding student loan debt was estimated at $364 billion in 2005 and has risen to approximately $1 trillion this year, according to an article in the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City’s magazine.
A senior economist said much of the increase is due to an occupational shift, meaning more workers are performing tasks that require education beyond high school.
That debt may be a little more manageable in coming years. The Senate this week approved a compromise in legislation designed to tie interest rates on student loans to financial markets rather than fixed rates.
A similar bill was approved earlier by the House, and differences are expected to be resolved soon so students — and their parents — will have lower rates once the fall semester begins.
Under the plan approved this week, undergraduate students could borrow at 3.9 percent interest, graduate students would have access to loans at 5.4 percent and parents could borrow at 6.4 percent.
Beyond the lower rates, the compromise gives borrowers a market-based approach to their college financing. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, was part of a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers that pushed through the legislation.
“I am pleased the Senate chose a permanent, affordable and market-based solution that provides stability for both students and taxpayers,” Coburn told the Associated Press.