The U.S. Postal Service is proposing a 3-cent hike in the cost of a first-class stamp, raising the price to 49 cents.
The proposal would require approval by the independent Postal Regulatory Commission. If approved, the increase would be effective Jan. 26.
Some questions and answers on the request to raise the price.
1. Why are postal officials seeking the increase? They say the agency is in a "precarious financial condition" and expects to lose $6 billion in 2013.
2. Are other forms of mail affected? The cost for additional ounces of first-class mail would rise a penny, to 21 cents an ounce. A postcard would also rise a penny, to 34 cents. International letters would rise five cents, to $1.15. The agency is also reportedly requesting a 5.9 percent increase for periodicals, bulk mail and package service rates.
3. What about Forever Stamps? Are they affected? Forever Stamps, created in 2007 to enable mailing first-class letters no matter the postal rate, can still be used. The cost of buying new ones, however, is now at the higher rate.
4. Are there limits on how much the Postal Service raise its prices? Under federal law, the agency cannot raise prices more than the rate of inflation, which is about 2 percent, unless the commission approves. This proposal is a 6.5 percent raise.