Senate takes votes on two student loan plans, neither passes

Renee Schoof

The Senate voted today on competing Republican and Democratic bills on student loan rates. Neither one got the 60 votes necessary under Senate rules.

If Congress does nothing this month, the rate on subsidized federal student loans will go up from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent on July 1.

The Republican version would to a market-based rate tied to the 10-year Treasury note. A Democratic one would keep the rate at 3.4 percent and pay for it by increasing taxes on multinational corporations.

Republican leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, speaking in the Senate this morning, said that when the bills fail as they're expected to do this evening, "I hope the president will step in to work with us on a serious, permanent solution, because, as I said, our ideas for reform are not all that different from his on this issue."

President Obama also proposed a plan that would link rates to the 10-year Treasury note, but the details differ from the GOP version. Democrats in the Senate say there should be a two-year extension of the low rate until a new higher education law can be worked out, including a permanent loan rate plan.

The Institute for College Access & Success favors the Democratic version. The policy group says in an e-mail today that the GOP plan "sets rates at levels that are projected to cost students nearly $16 billion more over the next 10 years alone, and it removes any cap on how high rates can go. Under the bill, rates are projected to more than double by 2016."

Renee Schoof
McClatchy Washington Bureau