With federal student loan interest rates less than two weeks away from doubling, Congressman Patrick Meehan (PA-07) urged the Senate to take action and help make higher education more affordable for all Americans. Meehan was among a group of Democrats and Republicans in writing to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell urging passage of legislation to prevent the interest rate from doubling to 6.8 percent on July 1st.
"We ask that you pass legislation immediately so that we can work together to resolve any differences between the chambers and prevent the interest rate from doubling for our neediest borrowers," the letter stated. "If we all agree student loan rates should not go up, let's show students we care by passing legislation before the end of the month."
The House passed the Smarter Solutions for Students Act (H.R. 1911) on May 23rd yet the Senate has not passed any legislation dealing with the looming rate increase.
"The bipartisan bill passed by the House prevents student loan interest rates from doubling," said Meehan. "The bill establishes a long-term solution by connecting student loan interest rates to the market rate of Treasury bonds, taking the yearly politics out of this issue and stopping the annual threat of drastic rate hikes. This was President Obama's idea -- and he was right to propose it. Even the Washington Post said this bill "echoes a plan Obama offered in April.'"
The full text of the letter is reproduced below.e.
Dear Majority Leader Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell:
We write to you today regarding the looming student loan interest rate cliff, now less than two weeks away, which will affect millions of students across the country if the Senate does not act. Current and future students should not be subjected to partisan debate and uncertainty on their student loan interest rates year after year. Now is the time to act to ensure that every student has a fair shot at an affordable, world-class higher education. Let's send a strong signal to our constituents that we care.
With student loan debt in the United States surpassing one trillion dollars, now is the time to enact common sense, long-term reforms. These are the students on which our country will rely to jumpstart the economy in the coming years. Congress should be acting to ensure that students are not crushed with unsustainable levels of debt after graduation, not playing politics with our students' education.
As you know, the House has passed a bill to prevent the interest rate for subsidized Stafford Loans from doubling to 6.8 percent on July 1st. While the House may not have unanimously approved the legislation, the Senate has failed to pass any bill -- including a similar long-term proposal as well as an extension of the 3.4 percent rate. We ask that you pass legislation immediately so that we can work together to resolve any differences between the chambers and prevent the interest rate from doubling for our neediest borrowers. If we all agree student loan rates should not go up, let's show students we care by passing legislation before the end of the month.
We believe there is a path for the House and Senate to approve a bipartisan long-term solution and stand ready to work with you on this important issue in the coming days.