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Senators Block Bill To Lower Student Loan Rates

The time-sensitive issue of doubled student loan rates is stalled again in Congress, with both parties hesitant to compromise.

College students wait by the steps of the House of Representatives for Speaker of the House John Boehner. Photo credit / Associated Press
College students wait by the steps of the House of Representatives for Speaker of the House John Boehner. Photo credit / Associated Press
By Katherine Hafner

A legislative attempt to extend a lower student loan rate for another year has failed in Congress, leaving students and lawmakers alike unsure whether a solution will be reached anytime soon.

On July 1, student loan rates doubled nationwide after Congress left for its July 4 recess without reaching an agreement on the matter. The interest rate on the federally subsidized loans increased from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent.

The rates have been set at 3.4 percent for years, and were set to expire last summer before Congress passed a last-minute one-year extension right before the July 1 deadline.

It was widely hoped that upon their return, lawmakers would either retroactively pass a bill to extend the rates for another year, or reach an agreement on a long-term solution about how to set the rates.

But on Wednesday, a bipartisan group of 49 senators voted down a Democratic-proposed bill that would have extended the 3.4 percent interest rate, according to the New York Times.

Many solutions to the longstanding problem have been proposed by both Republicans and Democrats.

Earlier this year, President Barack Obama introduced legislation to tie the loan rates to federal interest rates, but was shut down by his own Democratic party. Other attempts at compromise bills have since sprung up from both parties, such as one Republican bill similar to the President’s.

But none have successfully bridged the partisan divide on the issue, and the rates remain doubled with no solution in sight.

The Congress Joint Economic Committee estimates the doubled rates to cost about $2,600 per student using the subsidized loans, according to the Associated Press.

Tell us, in the comments section below:

-What should Congress do about student loan rates?

-Do you think the parties are being unreasonable about their approach to the issue?

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