Wednesday, July 23, 2014         

 Print   Email   Comment | View 8 Comments   Most Popular   Save   Post   Retweet

Senators: Student loan interest rates to double

By Philip Elliot

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 11:50 a.m. HST, Jun 27, 2013

WASHINGTON » Student loan rates will double Monday — at least for a while — after a compromise to keep student loan interest rates low proved unwinnable before the July 1 deadline, senators said today.

Sen. Tom Harkin, the chairman of the Senate education panel, said none of the proposals being circulating among lawmakers could win passage, and he urged lawmakers to extend the current rates for another year when they return from the July 4 recess. Harkin said his colleagues could retroactively restore the current rates after the holiday.

"Let's put this off for a year," Harkin, D-Iowa, told reporters.

Interest rates on new subsidized Stafford loans are set to go from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent on Monday unless lawmakers take action. Congress' Joint Economic Committee estimates the increase will cost the average student $2,600.

"Neither party wants to see rates rise next week," said Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C.

But a one-year rate extension isn't an acceptable option, either, he said.

"Last year we kicked the can down the road and passed a one-year extension for only a small group of students. ... Why would we make the same mistake again and just kick the can down the road another year?" said Burr, who was among a group of senators who worked on a competing proposal with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.

The Manchin-led proposal would link interest rates to the financial markets. It borrowed heavily from a version House Republicans passed earlier and from principles included in President Barack Obama's budget proposal.

Critics called it a bait-and-switch move that would provide students lower interest rates at first before they climb upward as the economy improves.

"Students across this country would rather have no deal than a bad deal," said Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I. "We're at the point where we have to do our best to extend the 3.4 percent interest rate while we work on a good deal, not just any deal."

Republicans blamed Democrats and said they would be responsible for the expected rate hike.

"As a result of their obstruction, the Democrat-led Senate will leave town and allow interest rates on some new student loans to increase on Monday," said Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell. "Senate Democrats continue to block reform and insist on kicking the can down the road."

Republicans also noted the Manchin-led proposal had many similarities with Obama's, including a link between 10-year Treasury notes and student rates.

"This agreement is very much like the proposal in the president's budget, it is very much like the proposal passed by the Republican House of Representatives and it will save billions of dollars in interest for all 11 million students taking out loans this year by dropping rates on all student loans," said Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, the top Republican on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

Alexander, a former education secretary, called Harkin's proposal "a short-term, political fix."

"That's no fix at all when we have a plan to help all students that we can pass quickly," he added.

Nothing was happening — quickly or not — before July 1, meaning students who take loans would face higher rates. Senators were heading out of town without a deal, and Harkin said his colleagues would consider a retroactive fix on July 10.

"I think we are nowhere between now and July 1," said Rep. George Miller of California, the top Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee. "It sounds to me like the Senate is going to leave town without dealing with this."

But Democrats promised to turn back to them when they get back to Washington, first with a short-term fix and then a longer-range measure.

The law that governs college and universities expires this fall and lawmakers planned to rewrite it starting in September. Democrats said they prefer to include a comprehensive student loan measure in it, rather than as a stand-alone bill.

"We need a one-year patch to keep interest rates from doubling on student loans," said Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. "That buys us the time."

 Print   Email   Comment | View 8 Comments   Most Popular   Save   Post   Retweet

You must be subscribed to participate in discussions
By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. Because only subscribers are allowed to comment, we have your personal information and are able to contact you. If your comments are inappropriate, you may receive a warning, and if you persist with such comments you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email commentfeedback@staradvertiser.com.
Leave a comment

Please login to leave a comment.
Bdpapa wrote:
What a crock!
on June 27,2013 | 09:50AM
samidunn wrote:
Unless your a illegal immigrant
on June 27,2013 | 11:09AM
Skyler wrote:
That is total dogpoop.
on June 27,2013 | 11:19AM
tiki886 wrote:
The Democrats took control of both Houses of Congress in November of 2006.

The Democrat Congress then presented a 'temporary' cut in the student loan rate to expire 2012 - 2013, signed by Bush. It was 6.8% at the time

The College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007 cut the fixed interest rates on newly originated subsidized Stafford loans for undergraduate students to 6.0% (2008-09), 5.6% (2009-10), 4.5% (2010-11) and 3.4% (2011-12), with a return to 6.8% in 2012-13. These cuts are available only to undergraduate students, not graduate students, and only for subsidized Stafford loans, not unsubsidized Stafford loans. Those loans remain at a fixed rate of 6.8%.

From 2008 to 2010 when the Democrats controlled the Presidency and both Houses of Congress, they could have made the interest rate cuts permanent. But now the Democrats are going to blame Bush and the Republicans. Watch.

on June 27,2013 | 11:20AM
MichaelG wrote:
Funny how Republicans can give tax breaks and other subsidies to big business but not help the poor student trying to better his or her life. The Republicans are in a class of their own and really do not care for poor people.
on June 27,2013 | 12:42PM
serious wrote:
Sure, while your Democratic President is on a family vacation at taxpayer expense in Africa for $100,000,000. But for some reason or other he never had a student loan??????????
on June 27,2013 | 02:17PM
Rainbowgran wrote:
And who is mostly involved in giving student loans and thus want to control higher interest rates??? And the rich get richer and the poor poorer and there are more people falling into the poorer category than ever. Ignorance cause public education really not up to par : witness the drop in the amount of high school graduates we have and I question the knowledge of those who do graduate. This is how the whole country is going down the tubes. Old boy system, cronyism, etc. etc. etc. Since HONESTY, JOBS GOTTEN BY MERIT, INTEGRITY ETC. SEEM NO WHERE TO BE FOUND IN OUR LEADERS HERE AND IN WASHINGTON, ESPECIALLY WASHINGTON. Would really like to see the amount of income a Senator or Representative starts with and then ends with on a yearly basis at both the National and Local government . BOTH parties suck and don't really get done what is for the majority of Americans but what is for the rich. Don't worry, the elderly disabled, and sick will be killed off by cuts in Medicare and Medicaid cause the medical care system in the US has all those who run medicare etc. with their fingers in the pie still get their cut and the cuts that should be for Medical Insurance and what is covered in the lst place are non-existant. What do ordinary people have left to live on much less get an education???
on June 27,2013 | 01:03PM
primowarrior wrote:
Seems hypocritical of Mitch McConnell, the king of obstructionists, to accuse the Democrats of obstruction.
on June 27,2013 | 01:09PM
Breaking News