June 26, 2013

Student loans have attention of Angus King

By Kevin Miller kmiller@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

In this April 2013 file photo, U.S. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, looks over paperwork during a hearing of the Budget Committee in Washington, D.C. A small group of U.S. senators, including King, rushed Wednesday, June 26, 2013 to finalize a last-minute compromise to prevent interest rates on federal student loans from doubling next month.

Gregory Rec / Staff Photographer

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But if the Congressional Budget Office estimates for 10-year Treasury notes hold, students might be better off if rates double as scheduled. The low-at-first undergraduate rates would rise to the current 6.8 percent for the 2017 year and reach 7.2 percent the next year under the compromise proposal, the AP reported.

Student loan debts in Maine were just shy of the national average of $26,600 in 2011, according to the Project on Student Debt at the Institute for College Access and Success. That was up more than $1,300 -- or 5 percent -- from the previous year.

Bowdoin Student Government sent a letter to members of Maine's congressional delegation on Wednesday as part of a broader push by college student leaders nationwide urging Congress to act.

Specifically, the letter recommends income-based repayment plans, reinvesting any cost savings in financial aid programs and capping rate increases if Congress ties rates to the financial markets. Absent long-term reforms, the Bowdoin student leaders said the current rates should be extended.

"Our classmates and their families represent a broad range of ideologies and backgrounds," student government president Sarah Nelson wrote. "However, the vast majority of students on this campus and campuses across the country are rallying again, as we did last year, around the belief that everyone should have access to world-class education at an institution like Bowdoin."

Congress is slated to wrap up its work  by Friday before returning home for a nine-day recess. But even if both the Senate and House were able to quickly pass a bill by July 1, President Obama will not be back from a trip to Africa until after July 1.

There are suggestions, however, that Congress could take up the bill after their return and make the changes effective retroactively.

Washington Bureau Chief Kevin Miller can be contacted at: 207-317-6256 or at:

kmiller@mainetoday.com

On Twitter: @KevinMillerDC

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