Student loan rates are scheduled to rise to 6.8 percent effective Saturday unless Congress preserves the current rate of 3.4 percent.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he and Majority Leader Harry Reid "have an understanding [to keep student loan rates from rising] that we think will be acceptable to the House," Politico reported. McConnell said the agreement "may or may not" be tied to a long-stalled highway bill, the Washington publication said.
The news was greeted warmly by the White House.
"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," a statement released by the White House press secretary's office said. "Higher education has never been more important to getting a good job. That's why President Obama has made stopping this rate hike and saving 7.4 million students an average of $1,000 a priority since his State of the Union and has repeatedly called on Congress to act. We hope that Congress will complete the legislative process and send a bill to the president as soon as possible."
The deal reached by McConnell, R-Ky., and Reid, D-Nev., would add language removing the subsidy for part-time students after six years and change the rules determining how much companies contribute to their employees' pensions.
Reid said a compromise on the highway bill could come yet this week, Politico said.
"I think chances today are better than 50-50 that we can get a bill done," he said on the Senate floor. "But we're still looking at [House] Speaker [John] Boehner [R-Ohio] to help us get that over the finish line. So we will see what happens on that."