WASHINGTON — With the flick of a few pens and Minnesota Republican Rep. John Kline over his shoulder, President Obama signed an overhaul of student loan interest rates into law on Friday.
The bill, the product of three months of congressional debate, ties the interest rate on federal student loans to the cost of the ten-year Treasury note, plus a few extra percentage points. The rates on undergraduate loans will be at 3.9 percent for this school year – higher than the 3.4 percent rate on subsidized Stafford loans last year, but lower than the 6.8 percent rate that kicked in on July 1.
Both President Obama and congressional Republicans, led by Kline and others on the House Education and Workforce Committee, had proposed the rate change, and the House passed a bill along those lines in May. The Democratically-controlled Senate forged a final version of the bill in July.
As he signed the bill, Obama needled the lawmakers behind him, saying, “It feels good to be signing bills. I haven’t done this in a while. Hint hint.”
Kline, who flew back from Minneapolis for the Oval Office ceremony Friday, called the bill a “bipartisan product” in an interview after the signing.
“It’s a very good thing for students, and it’s a very good thing for taxpayers,” Kline said, “and it’s a sign that we can get things done.”
Devin Henry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @dhenry