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Student loan interest rate doubles, but Senate vote could delay the increase

Proposal might keep the lower rate one more year

CNN News Wire | 7/4/2013, midnight

The student loan interest rate doubled this week for college students who plan to take out loans this fall.

Subsidized Stafford federal loan interest rates rose from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent.

These loans are for undergraduates who have financial need. Interest does not accumulate on these loans until the student is no longer in college, which makes them the most favorable federal loan for students.

There are several proposals floating around the Senate right now to try and reverse what happened at midnight Monday. On July 10, the Senate will vote on a proposal that could keep the 3.4 percent interest rate for one more year.

If that proposal passes, the bill will undo the damage already done; if not, student loan interest rates will double.

Congress’s Joint Economic Committee estimated the cost to students would be approximately $2,600.

The Senate failed to pass two bills that would have prevented increases in federal student loan rates in June.

The Republican proposal would have prevented loan interest rates from doubling and tied future rate increases to market-based rates. The Democratic proposal was a more short-term solution and would have kept the current interest rates the same for the next two years.

An attempt at a bipartisan agreement fell through last week, and a promise to agree on a solution after the July Fourth holiday was made instead.

Total student loan debt in the U.S. currently more than $1 trillion.

Evan Feinberg, president of Generation Opportunity, issued a statement in response to Congress’s failure to reach a deal on interest rates for government-backed Stafford loans:

“At a time when the average student loan debt is roughly $30,000 and effective youth unemployment is above 16 percent, politicians have gone home on vacation rather than offer the 7 million young people preparing to go to college certainty on their student loans,” he said.

“It’s clear that neither party is interested in addressing the real problem: government meddling in the student loan market, one of the main reasons college is unaffordable in the first place. Neither Democrats nor Republicans are right on this issue. Politicians should get out of the student loan market altogether and stop using students as pawns in their political games.”

Katie Grunewald | CNN News Wire