US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions

The Role of States in Higher Education

Harkin Statement on Forthcoming Senate Vote on Proposal to Keep Federal Stafford Loans Affordable

Friday, May 31, 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, released the following statement on the forthcoming Senate vote on the Student Loan Affordability Act of 2013, a fully paid-for bill to maintain the current interest rate on federal subsidized Stafford loans for more than 7 million undergraduate students. Harkin introduced the bill along with U.S. Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).

"In just over one month the interest rate on subsidized Stafford loans is set to double from 3.4% to 6.8%, impacting more than 7.2 million students struggling to afford a higher education.  The Student Loan Affordability Act, which I have introduced with Senator Jack Reed and Majority Leader Harry Reid, is a responsible, fully-paid-for bill that would extend current rates for two years.  This legislation will keep rates from doubling while allowing for Congress to develop a long-term interest rate policy in a careful and thoughtful way within the context of the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.  I am pleased that the Majority Leader has made college affordability a priority by scheduling a vote on the Student Loan Affordability Act for next week.

"Our proposal stands in stark contrast to the legislation passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, which charges students $3.7 billion in increased interest to pay for deficit reduction.  That proposal is worse for students--and makes college more expensive--than if the rate were to simply double to 6.8 percent.  I refuse to support any proposal that attempts to balance the budget on the backs of college students.  I am urging my colleagues in the Senate to support our common-sense bill and allow college to remain within reach for all Americans."

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