By Pat Loeb

By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It appears there will be no relief for college students who rely on federal loans to help pay tuition.

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Interest rates doubled this month, and efforts to hold the rate down have failed in Congress (see related story).   Meanwhile, students have few alternatives for making college affordable.

Two-thirds of college students depend on loans to get a higher education, graduating with an average of $26,000 in debt.

“It has a huge impact on their overall finances,” says Markita Morris-Louis, of Clarifi, a Delaware Valley consumer credit counseling service.

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She says recent graduates are already using 60 percent of their income to pay off loans, and the new rate will add as much as $5,500 in additional interest to the overall burden.

But she says commercial loans are at least as expensive — and have more stringent repayment rules.

“With the federally subsidized loans, there are much greater options: consolidating those loans, deferment, or income-based repayment options.  For those who have private loans, there’s very little that can be done,” she warns.

And Morris-Louis says with so few choices about how to afford college, families are increasingly considering whether it’s worth it to even attend.

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