Debate shuts down student loan bill, interest rates now doubled 

Roughly 7 million college students will be affected by the decision.

United States Senate members voted down the Keep Student Loans Affordable Act of 2013 at last Wednesday’s vote, the final count being 49-51.

Instead, federally subsidized student loan interest rates will now be doubled from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent for students this fall.

The Keep Student Loans Affordable Act of 2013 was the first attempt to combat this increase. It was created in an effort to keep current student loan interest rates in place for the next year, giving the Senate enough time to find a better solution. In order to have gone to a final vote, the bill needed nine more votes.

Among the 51 yeas was Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.

"I relied on student loans and understand the life-changing opportunities they provide to millions of American students," McCaskill said in a news release. "Keeping rates low and affordable is more important than ever — particularly during a time of economic recovery. I think we’re moving closer to a bipartisan solution that will accomplish that goal, and I'll continue to focus on student loans until we get this resolved."

Earlier this year, McCaskill visited MU’s campus and spoke to various students, including many from the Missouri Students Association and Graduate Professional Council.

“It was a great honor for all of the student leaders that spoke with Sen. McCaskill earlier this summer to spend time talking to her about an issue that is really important to us and the students that we represent,” MSA Legislative Advocacy Officer Camille Hosman said. “We are hoping that a deal gets made concerning student loans that is in the best interest of students. There is no concrete expectation of which student loan bills will succeed, but we hope a deal is made.”

Included in this discussion with McCaskill was MSA’s Director of Student Communications, Jimmy Hibsch.

“It's definitely saddening to hear that a solution couldn't be reached when so many students struggle to afford college as is,” Hibsch said. “I would hope that we'd eventually see a compromise reached that won't put politics into students' wallets.”

Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., was on the opposite side of the vote; he believes there is a better way to adjust interest rates, according to a news release.

“Millions of American students are borrowing between now and the fall, and they’re trying to decide whether or not they can afford to go to school," Blunt said in his press release July 1. "Now is the time for Congress to pass a bipartisan, common-sense solution that will give students more long-term certainty and access to lower rates. The House passed a bill, and the Senate has a bipartisan plan that is very close to the president’s proposal. I hope Majority Leader Harry Reid will allow a vote on this common-sense solution immediately when the Senate is back in session."

Roughly 7 million college students will be affected by this decision and each one of them will be paying about $1,000 more in interest rates per year. This includes MU students who have taken out federally subsidized Stafford Loans.

Without further action from the Senate, interest rates will stay doubled at 6.8 percent.

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