PDT Staff Writer
Senate leaders reached a compromise Tuesday to ensure that government-backed student loan interest rates would not double come July. The White House, Congress and the Romney campaign were all in agreement that student loan rates should be capped at 3.4 percent for now, rather than doubling them to 6.8 percent.
Earlier in the day the House overwhelmingly passed mixed legislation to prevent a sharp increase in interest rates on college loans, and at the same time, salvaged 2.8 million jobs, mostly in construction.
The measure cleared the House on a 373-52 vote and Senate approval was expected shortly thereafter, and it came. According to Fox News, the compromise legislation came as lawmakers scurried toward a Fourth of July recess. The bill, loaded with lots of legislation, also aims at shoring up the federal flood insurance program.
Congressional leaders decided to roll the transportation and student loan legislation into a single bill because, in the short term, they were both being paid in part by changes in pension laws.
Congressional bargainers reached an agreement earlier this week on the $6 billion college loan portion of that bill that would avert a doubling of interest rates beginning Sunday on federal loans to 7.4 million students. The current 3.4 percent interest rate on subsidized Stafford loans would have ballooned back to 6.8 percent on Sunday under a cost-saving maneuver contained in a 2007 law.
“Student loans are critical to helping students and families access higher education,” Dr. Rita Rice Morris, Shawnee State University president, said. “Accessibility is a vital part of the SSU mission. We believe that a college education should be within reach to all who desire it. Keeping interest rates low will help more students achieve their educational goals. We are glad that there is bipartisan agreement that this is an important issue.”
The bill would also spend more than $100 billion on highway and transit programs over two years. A deal clearing the way for passage of the bill was reached after Republicans gave up their demands that the bill require approval of the contentious Keystone XL pipeline and Democrats gave way on environment protections.
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