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Topic: student loans

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July 18, 2013 at 7:40 AM

Senate may avoid eating our young by reversing doubling of student-loan rates

Chan Lowe / Op Art It looks like the U.S. Senate might actually be functioning. (+1 for immigration reform package. -1 for filibuster abuse.) On Wednesday night, a bipartisan deal emerged to reverse a doubling of loan rates for federally subsidized student loans. Rates were supposed to increase from 3.4 to 6.8 percent after July 1. Instead,…

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Comments | Topics: higher education, student loans, u.s. senate

May 23, 2013 at 6:00 AM

The U.S. House of Representatives should reject GOP student loan bill

U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene cosponsored a bill extending low student loan interest rates. (Photo by Greg Gilbert/The Seattle Times)

U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene’s bill would extend current low student loan interest rates.
(Photo by Greg Gilbert/The Seattle Times)

UPDATE: The U.S. House of Representatives voted 221 to 198 in favor of a Republican plan to avert a scheduled doubling of student loan interest rates. The bill now goes to the Senate which is unlikely to take it up anytime soon because of ongoing work on the farm bill for now and immigration next month. Good.

Even though Congress needs to act by July 1 or student loan interest rates will jump from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent, the bill passed Thursday by the House is a terrible solution.  It would set a temporary low interest rate on students loans but the problem is future interest rates would be attached to 10-year Treasury notes. That sets in motion interest rates that would vary with the markets. Hundreds of thousands of student borrowers would be saddled with higher, rather than lower, debt.

A better option,  offered by U.S. Rep Suzan DelBene, D-Washington, was blocked by Republican leadership from even coming up for a vote. DelBene’s bill would have kept current low student loan interest rates for two years while Congress worked on a long-term solution. The Senate has a bill similar to the one offered by DelBene.

A nation that already owes more than $1 trillion in student loans must do something to rein in student loan interest rates. But the GOP plan harms students more than it helps them. The Congressional Budget Office projects the legislative plan would translate to a 5 percent interest rate on Stafford loans in 2014. Sounds okay, right? But that rate would soar to 7.7 percent in 2023. Moreover, Stafford loan rates would be capped at 8.5 percent, while loans for parents and graduate students would have a 10.5 percent ceiling under the GOP proposal. This Congressional Research Office analysis does the math.

GOP sponsors of the bill are trying to sell it as a facsimile of a proposal by the Obama administration. Not quite. Yes, President Obama supports tying student loan interest rates to an economic indicator – many Democratic lawmakers do. But the details of the president’s plan matter.

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Comments | Topics: congress, democrats, Education