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Harkin Statement on Senate Failure to Adopt Student Loan Interest Rate Fix

WASHINGTON—Today, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee and co-author of the Student Loan Affordability Act, released the following statement after Republicans filibustered the measure:

“We are less than four weeks away from July 1st, when the interest rate on Stafford loans will double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. As this deadline draws closer, students and their families need Congress to take action. The rising cost of higher education means that low- and middle-income students are relying on federal student loans to afford the opportunity to go to college. If the interest rate doubles, students will pay an additional $1,000 on each loan over the life of the loan.

“My Republican colleagues, in both the Senate and the House, have introduced plans that are, incredibly enough, worse for students than if the rate were to simply double.  Plain and simple—their bills make college more expensive.  The Senate proposal would extract an additional $16 billion from students by charging them higher interest rates on federal student loans over most of the next ten years. Troublingly, that bill also eliminates the cap on student loan interest rates for the first time since the inception of federal student loans in 1958. In just a few years, students could be paying more than 8 percent interest on their loans, under either of the Republican plans. Attempting to balance the budget on the backs of college students is just wrong.

“That’s why our sensible, fully-paid-for plan to keep rates low while we work out a long-term solution in the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act is the best option. I will continue to work with my colleagues to solve this problem by July 1st and help ensure that American students can continue to achieve the dream of higher education.”