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Sen. Baldwin votes against student loan compromise

UNDATED (WSAU-Wheeler News)  Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin was one of 18 senators to vote no yesterday, when the Senate overwhelmingly approved a compromise on student loan interest rates. The state’s other senator, Republican Ron Johnson, was among the 81 voting yes.

Undergraduate students would have a 3.9-percent interest rate this fall on federally-subsidized Stafford loans. Grad students would borrow at 5.4-percent, and parents at 6.4. Those rates could go up every year, in line with the economy and the government’s borrowing costs.

Democrats were able to get caps ranging from eight-and-a-quarter percent for under-grads to 10-and-a-half percent for parents. The Congressional Budget Office said it would be 10 years before the rates get that high. Even so, Baldwin told her colleagues it would put the biggest burdens on the students who could least afford it. She said college should be quote, “a path to prosperity … not a path to indebtedness.”

The bill now goes to the House, which approved a student loan bill that links interest to the financial markets. Supporters say there are relatively small differences between the two versions, and they hope House leaders can get those matters worked out quickly so the new interest rates can take effect for this fall’s college classes.