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Student Loan Rates Will Double Without Congressional Action; GWU Blocks Transgender Advocacy Efforts

From Bad to Worse. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently reported that student loan debt has now exceeded $1 trillion—but that’s not the worst of it. Congress must decide by June 30 whether to extend a provision from the College Cost Reduction and Access Act that reduced Stafford loan interest rates from 6.8 percent to 3.4 percent. If Congress fails to act, those rates will double, returning again to 6.8 percent. Nearly eight million students rely on these loans to pay for college and could be hit hard by the rate increase. The nation’s growing deficit has compelled lawmakers to cut funding in many areas, and assistance to college students is another area that is likely to face scrutiny. Legislation has been introduced to prevent the rate hike, but it is expected to be the subject of another partisan battle in the weeks ahead. [FOX Business]

Poster Controversy. Student efforts to advocate for transgender issues at George Washington University have hit a snag. The GW Graduate Feminists sought to hang posters in school bathrooms but were denied by school administrators. A spokesperson for the university claimed the posters were not rejected for their content, but because no posters from any student group are allowed in school bathrooms. “Bathrooms are often the sites of violence and harassment for transgender people,” said the student organization’s community liaison. “We wanted to be the leader focusing on LGBT street harassment and we came up with the ideas for these fliers.” According to a recent survey by the D.C. Trans Coalition, 68 percent of transgender respondents have been denied access to or have been harassed or assaulted in public bathrooms. [The GW Hatchet]

Crisis Averted? Earlier this month, dozens of students in California were arrested for protesting proposed budget cuts that would drastically affect public colleges in the state. California has struggled with mounting deficits and an eroding tax base—but a proposal by Gov. Jerry Brown, which would raise the sales tax and increase income taxes on the wealthy, is gaining momentum. The proposal will be on the ballot in November, and a new poll shows that 64 percent of voters support it. If the measure does not pass, an automatic “trigger cut” will take affect that will defund the University of California and California State University systems by $200 million. [Inside Higher Ed]

An LGBT House Divided. Not everyone in the LGBT community has welcomed the conviction of Dharun Ravi, the Rutgers student who spied on his gay roommate, Tyler Clementi, who committed suicide. While some view the verdict as a milestone in the fight against bullying, others see it as another young life being destroyed “The LGBT community is not of one mind regarding this matter,” said Toby Grace, editor of Out In Jersey. “Tyler Clementi’s life is gone but Dharun Ravi has a life too … it is disproportionate and unjust that his life should be destroyed because of a single, ill-judged act that, in other circumstances, would have been dismissed as a minor peccadillo.” Some Rutgers students have long shared this attitude: At a campus vigil for Tyler Clementi last year, several signs read, ‘Justice, not Vengeance.’ Ravi, who is 20 years old, faces up to 10 years in prison and deportation to India. [Mid Day]

Graham White was a former intern with Generation Progress and now is on the executive board of the Black Law Students Association at Yale. You can follow him on Twitter @GrahamWhiteNY.

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