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Harkin Statement on Senate Passage of Student Loan Proposal

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, today released the following statement after Senate approval of a proposal that will lower interest rates for all borrowers who have taken out, or will take out, a new federal student loan after July 1, 2013. As part of the bipartisan compromise, Senator Harkin secured caps on all loans, including an 8.25% cap on all undergraduate loans.

“At my insistence, this proposal includes the necessary caps on individual student loan interest rates to protect students should interest rates skyrocket in the future,” Harkin said. “This legislation will also require the Government Accountability Office to conduct a study on the true cost of the federal student loan program, to better inform Congress’ work as we begin the process of reauthorizing of the Higher Education Act.

“Over the past year, the HELP Committee has held a series of hearings to find out what innovations are taking place at both the state and institutional levels to curb college costs, create efficiencies, and improve student outcomes. Starting this fall, the Senate HELP Committee will continue this effort as we begin working to reauthorize the Higher Education Act. With student loan debt exceeding the $1.2 trillion mark--surpassing even credit card debt--it’s clear that we need to take major steps to improve college affordability.

“The upcoming reauthorization of the Higher Education Act will be a historic opportunity to examine our system of higher education, get a handle on runaway costs and work to make college more affordable for our nation’s students. I look forward to working with my colleagues on the HELP Committee to discuss these critical issues, and many others, as we reauthorize the Higher Education Act.”