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Nation/World

July 19, 2013

Senate ready to restore lower college loan rates

(Continued)

The proposal closely hews to what House Republicans passed earlier this year. House and Senate aides alike predicted the differences could be settled quickly.

“When we see the details, I’m hopeful we will be able to put this issue behind us,” Republican House Speaker John Boehner told reporters Thursday.

Republicans in both chambers have pushed for a link between interest rates and the financial markets. Obama included that link in his budget proposal, but Democrats balked, saying it could produce government profits on the backs of borrowers if rates continued to climb.

Leaders from both parties, however, recognized the potential to be blamed for the added costs in the 2014 elections if nothing were done.

Even House Democrats who opposed the GOP-led deal there appeared ready to go along.

“While I continue to review the details of the proposal, I’m encouraged that bipartisan efforts continue in the Senate to reverse the student loan interest rate hike. Republicans’ agreement to put a cap on student loan interest rates is a positive development,” said Rep. George Miller, the top Democrat on the Senate Committee on Education and the Workforce.

Few students had borrowed for fall classes. Students typically do not take out loans until just before they return to campus, and lawmakers have until the August recess to restore the lower rates. The students who had borrowed for summer programs since July 1 would have their rates retroactively reduced.

Lawmakers and their top aides had been tinkering with various proposals — nudging here, trimming there — trying to find a deal that avoids added red ink for students and the government alike.

The deal was estimated to reduce the deficit by $715 million over the next decade.

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