Washington - 18 July 2013

1. SOUNDBITE (English) Sen. Dick Durbin, (D) Illinois: "Good afternoon. I'm pleased to join my republican and democratic colleagues today to announce an agreement for reducing interest rates on federal student loans and the introduction to the bipartisan student loan certainty act. I was happy to work with Senator Lamar Alexander to facilitate the discussions and I want to personally thank my friend and colleague Senator Tom Harkin for the extraordinary job that he's done along with the others. We have gone through weeks of negotiation and discussion and we've come to an agreement. My colleagues standing here with me have worked tirelessly to find the solution to lowering the rates of interest that American students and their families face. They deserve all of the credit in getting us to this point, but I also want to thank President Obama who played a personal role this week, urging us to come to a bipartisan agreement. This deal will benefit many students by reducing interest rates they'll pay now to below current rates and protect them from interest rates in the future which may skyrocket by creating caps. It will give all undergraduate students the same interest rate. This is one of the most important features of this which I hope you won't miss. We have decided on a bipartisan basis that undergraduate students whether they're receiving subsidized or unsubsidized loans will receive receive the same interest rate.

2. SOUNDBITE (English) Sen. Lamar Alexander, (R) Tennessee: "Here's the bottom line. There are 11 million students heading toward college this fall who are making their plans about how to pay the bill and for every single one of those students who are--there are 11 million students heading for college who are borrowing money from the federal government. They're thinking about how to pay the bill. For every one of them, the interest rates on their loan will be lower. Two-thirds of them are undergraduates--they're going to the University of Tennessee or Iowa, Texas, somewhere like that and their interest rates are going to be cut nearly in half from the 6.8 percent that is the law today."


WASHINGTON (AP) _ A bipartisan group of senators is announcing a deal that lets students dodge higher interest rates when they go back to campus this fall.

The group on Thursday told reporters they have reached a compromise that lowers the rates for all students who borrow from the federal government. The rates would be linked to financial markets, meaning interest rates would climb in coming years.

Democrats insisted on and won a cap on how rates could climb.

Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois says the bill does not give any negotiator everything he sought. But it provides relief for students who were facing interest rates that doubled to 6.8 percent on new loans.

The House has already passed similar legislation and the differences could be resolved before students return to campus.