Stabenow expects the Senate to vote on student loan bill Wednesday

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On July 1, rates for need-based student loans doubled from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. Senators are expected to debate two competing bills aimed at retroactively fixing the student loan hike this week.

Most Senate Democrats support S. 1238, but a bipartisan group introduced a plan similar to one passed by the House, which would make the interest rate equal to the 10-year Treasury note plus 1.85 percent. The House-passed bill set the rate at the 10-year note plus 2.5 percent. 

Both the House GOP bill and bipartisan Senate bill, S. 1241, capped maximum loan rates above 8 percent, leading some Democrats to say the bills are worse than doing nothing because rates could get higher than 6.8 percent. It is unclear if the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act from Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Angus King (I-Maine) and Tom Carper (D-Del.) will also get a procedural vote on Wednesday.

Democrats have pointed to Congressional Budget Office estimates that the federal student loan program has generated a $50 billion profit, saying the government shouldn’t profit off students and low-income families.

“Too many Michigan students and families are strapped with tens of thousands in student loan debt when they graduate,” Stabenow said. “We need to be making college more affordable, not raising rates so the government makes a profit off of students.”

Last month, the Senate attempted to pass similar legislation that would have extended the 3.4 percent rate for two years — paid for by ending tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy — but there wasn’t enough support to overcome the Republican filibuster requiring 60-votes to advance the bill.