News

Obama moves to ease student loan burdens, urges Congress to act

Obama moves to ease student loan burdens, urges Congress to act

STUDENT LOANS:U.S. President Barack Obama speaks before he signs a presidential memorandum on reducing the burden of student loan debt in the East Room of the White House in Washington, June 9. Photo: Reuters/Larry Downing

By Mark Felsenthal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama on Monday signed an executive order making it easier for up to 5 million people to pay off college tuition debt, and scolded congressional Republicans for opposing legislation that would lower student-loan borrowing costs.

The action, which does not take effect until December 2015, will allow more people to limit repayments of federal student loans to 10 percent of their monthly incomes.

The administration will also try to lower student costs by renegotiating government contracts with companies like Sallie Mae that service student loans, he said.

The president said Congress should also take steps to ease debt burdens on students, 71 percent of whom earn bachelor’s degrees with debt, which averages $29,400.

Senate Democrats have proposed legislation that would allow millions of Americans to refinance both federal and private undergraduate student loans at lower interest rates.

The bill is unlikely to overcome the opposition of Republicans, who say the measure would come at too high a cost for the government. Obama said Republicans were not doing enough to support students, arguing that it should be possible for graduates to get a lower interest rate in the same way homeowners are able to.

“If you’re a Big Oil company, they’ll go to bat for you,” he said. “If you’re a student, good luck.”

Democrats hope the issue will distinguish them from Republicans in the eyes of voters and help them retain control of the Senate in November elections, Guggenheim Partners analyst Chris Krueger said.

“This Democratic pivot to student loan forgiveness is entirely political and is not designed to become law but rather to be used as a wedge issue in the midterm elections,” Krueger wrote in a research note to clients.

(Reporting By Mark Felsenthal; Editing by David Gregorio)

Recent Headlines

in Music

This week’s top rock tracks

Nickelback

LISTEN: This week's top rock tracks, according to the latest Billboard chart.

in Weird

Man laid to rest in fireworks funeral

Since Independence Day falls during the work week, members of St. Richard Catholic Church celebrated the holiday on Sunday, June 30, 2013, with a picnic-style outing complete with fireworks that could be seen throughout the northeast Jackson, Miss. neighborhood. The long streamers were recorded in a 13-second time exposure. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

A Missouri man will bid farewell to his father by having his cremated remains mixed with fireworks and launched into the sky.

in Entertainment, Viral Videos

Zack Galifianakis interviews Brad Pitt on ‘Between Two Ferns’

twoferns

The comic gets in some good digs at the "Fury" star in this hilariously awkward interview that's crashed by Louis C.K.

in Music

Jack White heading to Yale

jackwhite

The rocker will be part of a panel about legendary jazz and blues label Paramount Records.

in Music

Ozzy wants Bill Ward back for Black Sabbath swansong

ozzy

The rocker is keen to end his stand-off with drummer Bill Ward so he can join his bandmates for a final show.