ST. PETERSBURG, Florida - Not being able to reach an agreement on the fiscal cliff fiasco could have a domino effect on students and their parents who are relying on financial aid now or in the future to pay for college.
Signing the deal was supposed to extend certain tax breaks, like a tax credit up to $2,500 for college tuition, but now that hangs in the balance while Congress tries to hash out an agreement.
On the basketball court at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus, it's all about scoring points and playing as a team. On Tuesday afternoon, though, several current and past college students on the hard court said they wished Congress would do the same when it comes to fixing the fiscal cliff fiasco.
Rayce Williams and Clinton Williams say they both qualify for financial aid and are concerned about any changes to it. Clinton said, "It's just like everybody else. Everybody's trying to pinch a penny, save a dollar, so it's pretty much the same."
Rayce said, "Changes and going up in the taxes and everything, I just don't think it's fair."
Experts say the fiscal cliff fiasco could lead to higher college costs for families. Automatic spending cuts that were supposed to kick in at the end of the year may mean an eight percent cut in federal financial aid to students who need it the most.
Experts say, regardless, financial aid can't keep up with the rate at which tuition is rising anyway. Some college advisers say you should brace yourself for the possibility of less aid being available.
Ohmar Wynn graduated from the USF during the fall and said his parents put him through school with Florida's prepaid college plan, but with most American's facing a $2,200 tax increase, some parents may not be able to contribute. Wynn said, "It meant a ton for my family. Neither of my parents had an opportunity to go to college. They served our nation in the Army, and so for me it was a big thing. While they were financially comfortable and stable, they couldn't pay a college tuition."
The number of semesters students can receive Pell grants may be reduced, and the interest rates on federal student loans may go up too.