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Senate Fails to Move Forward on Student Loan Rate Relief

Two proposals in the U.S. Senate to keep the interest rate on federally subsidized Stafford student loans at 3.4 percent failed to move forward on Thursday.

The Republican solution, which cuts a preventive care fund in the health care law to come up with the $6 billion needed to cover the lower interest rate, failed 34-62. The Democrats' idea to change a tax provision that allows some small business owners to avoid paying payroll tax also came up short at 51-43. To overcome a filibuster, 60 votes are needed.

The failure to reach agreement in the Senate was met with disappointment from student groups. Rich Williams, higher education advocate for the consumer group U.S. PIRG, says the uncertain situation is causing nervous tension among families who rely on financial aid.

"Senators who return to their home states and say 'I tried' should be reminded that there is no A for effort. This debate is not about partisan gamesmanship in Washington but about a potential post-graduation debt increase of $1,000 for every year a subsidized Stafford loan borrower is in school," he said in a statement. "With the political votes behind them, we urge Senators who are truly concerned about students and the rising cost of higher education to find a bipartisan solution before the July 1 deadline."

Political pressure has heated up on the issue this spring as the lower interest rate is set to expire July 1.


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