clear
Wednesday May 27th, 2015 8:08PM

Obama signs student loan deal, says job isn't done

By The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama signed into law Friday a measure restoring lower interest rates for student loans, pledging the hard-fought compromise would be just the first step in a broader, concerted fight to rein in the costs of a college education.

Encircled by lawmakers from both parties in the Oval Office, Obama praised Democrats and Republicans alike for agreeing - finally - on what he called a sensible, reasonable approach to student loans even as he cautioned that "our job is not done."

"Feels good signing bills. I haven't done this in a while," Obama said, alluding to the difficulty he's faced getting Congress, particularly the Republican-controlled House, to approve his legislative priorities, such as gun control and budget deals.

"Hint, hint," he added to laughter.

But even the feel-good moment at the White House came with reminders of the bitter partisanship that still makes future deals incredibly difficult for Obama. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, called the law part of the "Republican jobs plan," while House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California said it "stands in stark contrast to the House Republicans' plan to saddle families with billions more in student debt."

The rare compromise emerged only after a frenzy of summer negotiations, with lawmakers at odds over how loan rates should be set in the future even while they agreed that a doubling of rates - it kicked in July 1 when Congress failed to act before the deadline - would be bad policy and bad news for students.

The legislation links student loan interest rates to the financial markets. It offers lower rates this fall because the government can borrow money cheaply at this time. If the economy improves in the coming years as expected, it will become more costly for the government to borrow money, and that cost would be passed on to students.

About 11 million students this year are expected to have lower interest rates, saving the average undergraduate $1,500 on interest charges on this year's loans.

Boehner called it "a good day" and a fine example of what Washington can accomplish when petty partisanship is put aside.

"With the stroke of a pen, we've now officially taken the politics out of student loans," he said.

Obama cast the student loan deal as just the first of many measures the U.S. needs to make college affordable as a higher-tech economy makes advanced training and education a necessity for many workers.

"The cost of college remains extraordinarily high. It's out of reach for a lot of folks," Obama said, calling it a burden as well on families who have to balance other priorities, like buying a home, with helping fund their children's educations. "We've got to do something about it."

To that end, Obama said he'd be looking to the same coalition of political forces that came together on student loans as he pursues further steps.

White House officials have said Obama plans to lay out a broad and aggressive strategy in the coming months to tackle the spiraling cost of a college education. Even as they passed the bill weeks earlier, congressional officials were already talking about a broader approach to curbing fast-climbing costs and perhaps scrapping the deal when they take up a rewrite of the Higher Education Act this fall.

Rates on new subsidized Stafford loans doubled to 6.8 percent July 1 when Congress couldn't agree on a way to keep them at the previous 3.4 percent rate. Without congressional and presidential action, rates would have stayed at 6.8 percent.

The compromise is a good deal for all students through the 2015 academic year. After that, interest rates are expected to climb above where they were when students left campus in the spring, if congressional estimates prove correct for 10-year Treasury notes.

Undergraduates this fall will borrow at a 3.9 percent interest rate for subsidized and unsubsidized loans. Graduate students would have access to loans at 5.4 percent, and parents would borrow at 6.4 percent. The rates would be locked in for that year's loan, but each year's loan could be more expensive than the last.

Interest rates will not top 8.25 percent for undergraduates. Graduate students will not pay rates higher than 9.5 percent, and parents' rates would top out at 10.5 percent. Using Congressional Budget Office estimates, rates would not reach those limits in the next 10 years.

In all, some 18 million loans will be covered by the legislation, totaling about $106 billion this fall. The Congressional Budget Office estimated the bill would reduce the deficit by $715 million over the next decade.
© Copyright 2015 AccessNorthGa.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
S&P 500 index has its best year since 1997
The stock market closed out a record year with more all-time highs on Tuesday, giving U.S. indexes their biggest annual gains in almost two decades.
6:56PM ( 1 year ago )
Colorado readies for 'Green Wednesday' pot sales
Police were adding extra patrols around pot shops in eight Colorado towns that plan to allow recreational sales to anyone over 21 on Jan. 1.
1:52PM ( 1 year ago )
Kerry seeks framework for Mideast peace talks
A senior State Department official says Secretary of State John Kerry will try this week to get Israel and the Palestinians to agree on a framework for negotiating a final peace agreement, yet cautions against raising expectations for Kerry's latest round of shuttle diplomacy.
1:35PM ( 1 year ago )
U.S. News
Missing Ga. bank director arrested in Brunswick
A bank director accused of losing millions of investors' dollars before vanishing last year was arrested Tuesday during a traffic stop in a city in south Georgia.
7:00PM ( 1 year ago )
Amtrak to suspend some Crescent service in Jan., Feb.
Amtrak service will shut down in parts of the Southeast for several days in January and February for rail maintenance by Norfolk Southern Railway.
9:00AM ( 1 year ago )
Lung cancer scans urged for some smokers, not all
Certain current or former heavy smokers should start getting yearly scans for lung cancer to cut their risk of death from the nation's top cancer killer, government advisers said Monday - even as they stressed that the tests aren't for everyone.
7:26AM ( 1 year ago )
Business News
Sex offender held in Hall County for failing to register
A 47-year-old man was booked into the Hall County Jail Tuesday, being held without bond for allegedly failing to register as a sex offender, his second such arrest.
6:09PM ( 1 year ago )
Pharmacy robberies may involve same suspect
Oakwood Police Tuesday afternoon released details in a pharmacy robbery they're investigating, similar to one that happened in the Hall County Tuesday morning.
5:46PM ( 1 year ago )
Victim critical following apartment fire
A 41-year-old woman was in critical but stable condition Tuesday after being rescued from an apartment fire in Forsyth County late Monday afternoon.
3:16PM ( 1 year ago )
Local/State News
Feeling US snub, Saudis strengthen ties elsewhere
Increasingly vocal in its frustration over U.S. policies in the Mideast, Saudi Arabia is strengthening ties elsewhere, seeking out an alignment that will bolster its position after it was pushed to the sidelines this year.
4:34PM ( 1 year ago )
NSA reportedly intercepts computer deliveries
A German magazine has lifted the lid on the operations of the National Security Agency's hacker unit, revealing how American spies intercepted computer deliveries, exploited hardware vulnerabilities, and even hijacked Microsoft's bug report system to spy on their targets.
12:31PM ( 1 year ago )
Rockets fired from Lebanon into Israel
Rockets from Lebanon struck northern Israel on Sunday, causing no injuries but sparking an Israeli reprisal shelling in a rare flare-up between the two countries.
12:26PM ( 1 year ago )
Politics
US rejects nuclear disarmament document over Israel concerns
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United States on Friday blocked a global document aimed at ridding the world of nuclear weapons, saying Egypt and other states tried to "cynically manipulate" the process by...
9:33PM ( 4 days ago )
Obama again avoids calling 1915 Armenian killings 'genocide'
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama will once again stop short of calling the 1915 massacre of Armenians a genocide, prompting anger and disappointment from those who have been pushing him to ful...
1:00PM ( 1 month ago )
Ex-NFL star Hernandez convicted of murder, sentenced to life
FALL RIVER, Mass. (AP) — Former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison Wednesday for a deadly late-night shooting, sealing the d...
8:54PM ( 1 month ago )
Clinton kicks off 2016 campaign online, heads next to Iowa
WASHINGTON (AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton jumped back into presidential politics on Sunday, making a much-awaited announcement she will again seek the White House with a promise to serve as the "champi...
7:56PM ( 1 month ago )
Hall, White, Jefferson schools recognized nationally for use of technology
Three school districts in northeast Georgia - Hall, White, and Jefferson - have received national recognition for their use use of innovative technologies. They earned top spots in the Center for Digital Education's and the National School Boards Association's 10th annual Digital School Districts Survey.
By Staff
1:00PM ( 1 month ago )