POLITICS
07/06/2013 10:53 am ET

Lynn Jenkins: Student Loans Situation Puts 'Essentials Of The American Dream' At Risk (VIDEO)

Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.) delivered the GOP's weekly address on Saturday, hammering at Senate Democrats over last week's increase in student loan rates.

Jenkins drew upon Independence Day, highlighting the American belief of ensuring "our children are free to live a better life." She said that Monday's doubling of interest rates on subsidized Stafford loans from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent went against that principle, urging Democrats to pass bipartisan reform.

“Today these essentials of the American Dream are at risk," Jenkins said. "Last week, I spoke with hundreds of college students who are concerned they won’t have the same opportunities their parents had. They find it hard to see beyond paying off their education, stretching to afford rent, and finding a job in this tough economy."

Back in late May, the House passed a bill that would switch the student loan rates system to a market-based platform, out of the hands of Congress. The Smarter Solutions for Students Act makes subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford loans reset every year, based on 10-year Treasury notes, plus 2.5 percent. Reuters noted in its May report that Senate Democrats were instead in favor of keeping rates of 3.4 percent for two additional years, and the White House was ready to veto the House plan on the premise that students would face uncertainty.

Jenkins stressed Saturday that President Barack Obama's plan was in similar line with Republican House and Senate ideas. In early June, CNN lined up those proposals, noting that the GOP proposal would result in a 5 percent rate for year one. That number would likely jump over time, as tied to those annual 10-year treasury bond levels.

Back in April, the Huffington Post detailed how Obama's budget plan also relied on 10-year Treasury bond levels to determine rates. The 3 percent figure would remain for students on subsidized loans during year one, while unsubsidized candidates would face an initial rate of 5 percent. CBS News noted Saturday that Obama's plan also differs in that the rate is fixed at the time the loan is issued.

Upon last Monday's news that Stafford loan interest rates had doubled, the White House predicted a deal was possible before school starts this fall.

"We are confident they will get there and that the solution will include retroactive protection for students who borrow after July 1 so that their student loan rates don't double," spokesman Matt Lehrich said, according to the AP.

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