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Keeping Student Loan Interest Rates Low


Location: Unknown

The life of a typical college student is complicated enough without being used as a political football during campaign season. Unfortunately, that's just what President Obama is doing by playing politics with the issue of student loan rates at a time when students can least afford it.

For weeks, the president has been running around ginning up college students and late-night television audiences over an impending interest rate increase for student college loans, and pointing the finger at Republicans. But not only are Republicans seeking to solve this problem, it is only Republicans who have passed legislation to keep student loan interest rates low.

In addition, I and other Republican leaders in Congress recently sent the president a letter pledging our support to prevent the student loan interest rate from going up and laying out two separate proposals to ensure that those rates stay low.

Both of the proposals we outlined are common-sense, bipartisan solutions. In fact, they both should already have the support of the president, because they are both based on policies from the president's own budget proposals. These two solutions are in addition to an initial one Republicans passed in the House of Representatives several weeks ago.

There's no reason Congress and the president cannot work together to pass legislation quickly and in a bipartisan manner to give college students the certainty they need about their loan payments. But on this student loan issue, it is Republicans who've been working on solutions. And it's the president who's been totally AWOL.

That's a shame. Even though it's obvious this president is already in full-bore campaign mode, it is still his responsibility to govern.

It is particularly important we provide a fix for this problem in light of the poor economy. Unemployment in Kentucky is 8.3 percent--above the national average. And the unemployment rate for those under age 24 is 16.7 percent, more than double the national average.

The job market for recent college graduates is daunting as they face looking for work in the Obama economy. More than half of bachelor's degree holders under the age of 25 are unemployed or underemployed.

Eighty-five percent of new college graduates are moving back in with their parents. And the starting salary for those graduates lucky enough to find a job has decreased 10 percent from what it was as recently as 2007.

College graduates facing such an uphill climb don't need the added burden of increased interest rates on their student loans, too.

Republicans are waiting to see if the president can support using policies he himself has already proposed in the past to pay for preventing an increase in student loan rates now. It remains to be seen whether the president can get to yes on this crucial issue. The clock is ticking.

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