a 81-18 vote, the U.S. Senate approved a measure Wednesday that
looks to reduce the interest rates for federal student loans taken out
after July 1.
The move comes after the interest rates on federally subsidized student loans doubled on July 1, from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. The hike, which impacted some 7 million college students, kicked in after Congress failed to pass a measure that would have halted the automatic increase.
The Senate bill, the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act,
would tie the interest rate of student loans issued after July 1 to the
U.S. Treasury's 10-year borrowing rate, as determined by the last auction
held before June of each year.
Under the measure, undergraduates would see a 3.86
interest rate for both unsubsidized and subsidized student loans. For
graduate students, the interest rate would be 5.41 percent on
unsubsidized loans. The rate would be 6.41 percent on PLUS loans for parents and
graduate students. The interest rates would be fixed over the life of
The measure also includes a cap to
ensure the rates do not spike past 8.25 percent for undergraduate
students, 9.5 percent for graduate students and 10.5 percent for PLUS
According to the Congressional Budget Office, the legislation would save taxpayers $715 million over ten years.
bill now moves on to the House, where it is expected to pass soon, reports the New York Times. The House has already passed a plan that is close to the Senate's
proposal, although the loan rates in the House bill are a bit higher.
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced the bipartisan Senate measure along with U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Richard Burr (R-NC), Tom Carper (D-DE), Tom Coburn (R-OK), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Angus King (I-ME) and Joe Manchin (D-WV).
agreement will ensure students loan rates will fall below the 6.8
percent rate that kicked in on July 1,” Durbin said in a
statement when the bill was introduced last week. “Once again we’ve
shown that when both sides work together, we can reach fair and
bipartisan solutions to some of the nation’s biggest issues. Now that
we’ve found a way to keep student loan rates low, I hope we can return
to a more basic conversation about the underlying and unsustainable cost
of education in America.”
U.S. Sen. Mark
Kirk (R-IL) also voted for the bill.
addresses interest rate changes and returns confidence to the 21.9
million borrowers expecting to take out Stafford and PLUS loans this
year," Kirk said in a statement after the vote. "Currently, 64 percent of Illinois college
students graduate with debt -- $26,000 on average. I
hope this long-term fix becomes law and relieves the burden on Illinois