Taking on any amount of debt can be scary, but for college students who rely on student loans to pay their tuition and fees, a possible hike in interest rates could make their debt situation even scarier.

A lot of my college friends attended school using borrowed money, and most of them admitted that they tried not to think about the day they would have to start paying it back.

But sooner or later, graduation day will come, and in this economy, the typical six-month buffer between the day you receive your degree and the day you must start writing checks for your loan just isn’t enough time to get on your feet.

The competition for well-paying jobs is fiercer than ever, and contrary to what some students might have thought when they signed on the dotted line of their loan agreements, having a college degree does not guarantee that a person will be hired once he or she graduates. Consequently, many new grads end up working any job they can find — regardless of what it pays — making it difficult to afford living expenses, let alone loan payments.

Legislation that lowered undergraduate student loan interest rates to 3.4 percent in 2007 will expire July 1, effectively doubling interest rates unless Congress intervenes.

According to a recent article in the Missoulian, that could affect 6,000-plus University of Montana students to the tune of about $1,000 per year over the life of their loans. Sen. Jon Tester supports the effort to keep student loan rates at current levels. The problem, of course, is carving out revenue to fund the freeze.

I know a lot of UM grads and current students who will be pulling for Congress to move something through in time for the July deadline. Until then, they’ll probably try not to think about it.

Brooke is a 2010 graduate of The University of Montana, where she ran track and cross country for the Grizzlies. She is currently working as a writer and editor in Missoula.