Loans Back In The Spotlight

WASHINGTON — When President Obama made a speech from the Rose Garden on Friday about student loans, it seemed like history was repeating itself. The same thing happened at this time last year: with weeks to go before a scheduled increase in the student loan interest rate, the issue turns into a high-profile political fight.

As Obama acknowledged: “If this sounds like déjà vu all over again, that’s because it is.”

Last year, the interest rate on newly issued subsidized Stafford student loans — loans that are available only to students with financial need, and that don’t accumulate interest while students are enrolled in college — was scheduled to double to 6.8 percent on July 1. The increase was long foreseen: Congress passed legislation in 2007 that gradually lowered the interest rate from 6.8 percent to 3.4 percent over five years, but the rate was scheduled to rebound in 2012.

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