College students and their parents deserve student loan rates that are not determined by battles between political parties, said U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins Saturday, adding Senate Democrats put many people's dreams on hold because they did not take action on a student loan deadline.
The Kansas Republican, delivering the GOP weekly address
, said this past spring, Republicans agreed with President Barack Obama that the market should set interest rates for subsidized Stafford Loans, and the House quickly passed a bill reflecting this plan.
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"Unfortunately, Senate Democrats attacked the president's plan, refused to work with us, and allowed this rate hike to take effect, leaving for the July 4 holiday without a solution," said Jenkins.
Democratic senators were seeking
an interest rate plan that would fix student loan rates at a certain point, saying there were no guarantees interest rates would not skyrocket if the economy improves.
As a result, subsidized Stafford loans, which account for roughly a quarter of all direct federal borrowing, went from a 3.4 percent interest rate to 6.8 percent on Monday. Congress' Joint Economic Committee estimated the cost passed to students would be about $2,600.
Jenkins said the uncertainty has left college students concerned they won't have the same opportunities to succeed that their parents have.
"They find it hard to see beyond paying off their education, stretching to afford rent, and finding a job in this tough economy," said Jenkins.
Politicians have been in charge of setting rates for "too long," she said, "and we keep coming back to cliffs and deadlines like this one."
The inaction on the rates means "millions of undergraduates who want to take out a subsidized Stafford loan are now being told they will have to pay an interest rate that's double what they were expecting. That's just not right."
Students and their parents deserve a more fair approach, Jenkins said, that allows them to have lower rates and peace of mind.
Perkins called on Senate Democrats to help pass bipartisan student loan reform when they come back in session this week, "and President Obama should do his part by urging his fellow Democrats in the Senate to work with us."
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