Obama to students: Lobby Congress on loans

May 4, 2012 at 4:35 PM
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ARLINGTON, Va., May 4 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama urged high school students Friday to tell lawmakers to approve a measure that would keep student loan interest rates from doubling.

"I want you to send a message to Congress. Tell them, 'Don't double my rate.' … You should call them, you should e-mail them, write on their Facebook page, tweet them," Obama told students at Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, Va.

Obama, joined by U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, made the case for a bill expected to be approved by the Democratic Senate next week that would retain the 3.4 percent interest rate on Stafford student loans. More than 7 million students a year take out such loans.

Obama and Senate Democrats want to cover the estimated $6 billion cost of maintaining the lower rate for another year by eliminating some corporate tax loopholes.

However, the House of Representatives has approved a measure that would pay to keep the rate lower by cutting money from a preventive healthcare program -- a move Obama and other Democrats oppose.

Obama noted students who borrow to pay for college graduate with an average of about $25,000 in debt.

"We can't price the middle class out of a higher education. We've got to make college more affordable," he said.

The low interest rate resulted from the 2007 College Cost Reduction and Access Act, which gradually reduced interest rates on subsidized Stafford loans to 3.4 percent by July 2011, with the proviso the rates would revert to 6.8 percent July 1 of this year.

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