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Monday, March 04, 2024

Obama discusses plan to keep student loan interest rates low

With the Republican Party elections winding down, President Barack Obama is pushing forward with his re-election campaign by connecting with university and college students — the demographic largely credited for his 2008 election.

In a conference call with student reporters Tuesday from Air Force One, Obama discussed a measure to keep student loan interest rates low. He spoke for several minutes and directed questions to staff afterward.

The rates are set to double in July because a congressional measure that passed in 2007 is set to expire then. The measure kept rates low, but they will jump from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent if Congress does not intervene, said Cecilia Muñoz, deputy assistant to the president.

The White House is asking for a one-year extension to the measure.

The average college student who takes out loans graduates with $25,000 a year in debt, Obama said.

“I’ve always believed that we should be doing everything we can to help put higher education within reach for every single American student,” Obama said. “It’s never been more important. Unfortunately, it’s never been more expensive.”

If Congress doesn’t extend the measure, there isn’t much the president can do to lower the rates, Muñoz said.

“Unfortunately, it requires legislative authority to keep the rates low,” Muñoz said. “We continue to believe the people here in Washington will listen to the voices of their constituents.”

Contact Meredith Rutland at mrutland@alligator.org.

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