Bill to Keep Student Loan Rates Low Defeated in Senate
Federal student loan interest rates for Stafford loans are set to double on July 1 after United States Senate Republicans defeated a bill yesterday that would have kept the rates stagnant for another two years.
Part of the 2007 stimulus bill included provisions to gradually lower the 6.8 percent interest rate to 3.4 percent over four-years. Congress passed an extension of the lowered rate last year. That extension is set to expire on July 1, which would cause interest rates for students to essentially double overnight.
“What we put forward today was a perfectly sensible solution to help address the problem,” said Washington Sen. Patty Murray. “It seems like a no-brainer to me, but apparently not to Republicans.”
The Republican proposed bill was also defeated, which would tie student loan interest rates to market-based rates. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said that provision would result in $13-14 billion worth of increases to students. President Obama says he would veto anything that increases the rate by that much.
“I cannot understand why we’re having a problem with this,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said.
Even some Republicans agree that increasing Stafford loan rates for 7 million students seems like a poor idea.
“If we can’t agree on this, we can’t agree on anything,” said Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, the top Republican on the Senate education panel. “This is a manufactured crisis.”
Lawmakers have 23 days to come up with a compatible compromise or an increased burden for students to attend college is imminent.