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Begich Votes to Keep Student Loan Rates Low

Vows to Keep Working on a Long-term, Bi-partisan Solution to Replace Today’s Temporary Fix

U.S. Senator Mark Begich today voted to support legislation to keep student loan interest rates low in order to provide short-term rate relief for American students and families and to ensure the Senate has time to work to find a more permanent solution to address college affordability. 

“As former chair for the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education, I worked for years to help develop strategies to make college more affordable for Alaskan students and their parents,” said Sen. Begich.  “It’s outrageous that even after today’s vote, big banks still get a better deal on federal government loan rates than we provide to our students.  I was reluctant to vote for today’s bill because it represents only a temporary fix to the student loan rate crisis.  However, I decided short term relief is important to families right now and gives us time to come up with a permanent solution in the future.”

Today’s approved legislation indexes student loan rates to the 10-year Treasury note. Based on current projections, rates will remain lower than current law for several years.

In May 2013, Sen. Begich co-sponsored legislation that would allow students to take advantage of the same low interest rates offered to banks through the Federal Reserve discount window. The bill would have let students borrow at .75 percent on federally subsidized Stafford loans for one year, would give students the short-term relief they need, and would allow Congress time to develop a long-term plan to address interest rates. Senator Begich also supported legislation to freeze the interest rates for federally subsidized Stafford loans at 3.4 percent for one year in order to allow the Senate time to take a more comprehensive look at college affordability and student loan rates.  The Senate failed to approve this legislation and student loan rates doubled to from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent on July 1, 2013. 

“With tuition costs growing, it is more important than ever to make financing a higher education affordable for all Americans,” said Sen. Begich.  “Today’s vote gives families assurance of low rates for the next two years but I won’t stop working on this issue until we have a reliable, long-term solution.”

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