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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Obama says action needed to keep loan rates from doubling

President Barack Obama called on Congress to prevent interest rates on subsidized federal student loans from doubling during a conference call with student journalists on Tuesday.

Throughout the call, Obama described his desire to visit colleges across the nation and speak with students about keeping the rates, which are currently at historic lows of 3.4 percent, from doubling on July 1. He said Congress needs to pass legislation to keep the rates low. Without it, interest rates on student loans could jump to 6.8 percent.

Obama also discussed how to make higher education more affordable and opposed tax cuts for “millionaires and billionaires.” These tax cuts, he said, would interfere with programs that allow students to succeed.

“So the bottom line here is we can’t just cut our way to prosperity,” he said. “Making it harder for our young people to afford higher education, allowing them to earn their degrees — that’s nothing more than cutting our own future off at the knees.”

Obama said he empathized with students facing debt, relating his own experience with student loan debt after graduating from college and law school. This is why he is taking the potential doubling of interest rates personally, he said.

In the past few days, Obama has visited the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Colorado at Boulder, and will travel to the University of Iowa today. His goal, he said, is to reach out to students and urge them to speak out.

There is hope his remarks will spur action, said Cecilia Muñoz, assistant to the president and director of White House Domestic Policy Council.

Muñoz discussed the economic priority of the issue as well as Obama’s decision to continue pushing it. Generating conversation creates a space for Congress to step in and take the action, she said.

“I’m going to keep focusing on it until Congress passes legislation to keep interest rates low,” Obama said, “and to continue to give students the chance to get the college education they need for the jobs of today, but also for the jobs of tomorrow.”

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