Congress votes to keep student loan interest rate from doubling

Just two days before the student loan interest rate was scheduled to double, Congress passed a measure that includes maintaining the current 3.4 percent loan interest rate for more than 7 million students.

In a 375-52 vote on Friday, the House reached a bipartisan agreement to prevent the loan rate from increasing to 6.8 percent and to create local jobs repairing the nation’s infrastructure.

According to a statement Friday afternoon from The White House Office of the Press Secretary, “millions of American students will avoid a $1,000 debt hike” because of the vote.

The UC Berkeley CalPIRG chapter sponsored several campaigns during the spring 2012 semester that focused on reaching out to local representatives to convince them to support the measure.

“With higher education becoming more costly and all these federal subsidies being diminished, a lot of people were over having to pay more for higher education,” said CalPIRG Treasurer Spencer Pritchard in an interview.

In a press release following the vote, Pritchard said the vote is a victory for college students who graduate with an average of $25,000 in debt.

“Overwhelming support from students and families across the country showed our congressmen they needed to act,” Pritchard said in the statement. “This is an important step, but we still have a long way to go to make college affordable. That’s why it’s so important that Congress knows that that means something to students.”

ASUC External Affairs Vice President Shahryar Abbasi said that though Congress is moving in the right direction to help relieve students of their debt, it needs to be consistent in its decisions regarding students.

“The fact that we kept the rate low when so many other things are going on that puts higher education at risk is a win for students and a good gesture on Congress’s part,” Abbasi said. “But I would like to see Congress take further action … these are last-minute scrambles during election season so it’s hard to know what the future holds for (students).”