U.S. Senate reaches deal to keep student loan rates low

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U.S. Senate leaders announced Tuesday that they have reached a deal that will allow them to avoid increasing student loan interest rates, just five days before the rates were set to double.

In the months leading up to the expiration, Democrat and Republican leaders largely agreed on the necessity of maintaining the current 3.4 percent interest rate, but differed on how to generate the $6 billion in subsidies needed to maintain the reduced interest rates to keep rates from doubling for more than 7 million students with Stafford loans.

President Barack Obama and college students around the country have campaigned to push for congressional action to stop the increase.

“We’re pleased that the Senate has reached a deal to keep rates low and continue offering hard-working students a fair shot at an affordable education,”  reads a statement issued by the White House Office of the Press Secretary on Tuesday. “Higher education has never been more important to getting a good job.”

If Congress does not pass the Stop the Rate Hike Act of 2012 by the end of the month, rates will double to 6.8 percent for students with Stafford loans. The bill still needs to be voted on by Congress by the July 1 deadline.

“We hope that Congress will complete the legislative process and send a bill to the President as soon as possible,” the statement reads.

Adelyn Baxter is the news editor.