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

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."