Congress clashes over student loan rate

About 450,000 Florida college students will pay an average of $979 more for new federal loans starting July 1 unless Congress agrees to freeze the current interest rate at 3.4 percent. Facing a bleak job market, some students are pressuring Congress to spare them from higher payments, and members of both parties on Capitol Hill say they want to help. But Republicans insist on covering the cost by taking $5.9 billion from the new health care law, and Democrats are pressing instead to pay for it by closing a tax loophole used by some corporations and professional consultants.

Republicans, including some Florida students, consider the Senate bill a form of tax increase and would rather take money from a health-care law they consider wasteful.

“We want to keep interest-rates low, but only if the government is willing to recognize the fact that they are spending money irresponsibly,” said Chris McGee, 21, of Orlando, a Political Science student at the University of Central Florida and chairman of the Florida Federation of College Republicans. “All the money that is being thrown into the health-care bill is hurting America, hurting job growth, hurting most businesses. Instead of using that money to hurt all those people, you can use it to help the college students and keep their interest rates low.”

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