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Romney, Obama Both Support Student Loan Interest Freeze

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Though the nation’s two major political parties have very little they can agree on, it seems that one issue where there’s a bit of common ground, at least among each side’s likely presidential candidates, is in the area of student loans.

Both President Barack Obama and likely Republican nominee Mitt Romney have come out in support of a bill that would freeze the interest rates on federal student loans at their current level, according to a report from the Associated Press. Currently, the interest rates on these loans are set to double from their current level of 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent on July 1, meaning that all loans obtained after that by low- and middle-income undergrads would cost them considerably more to pay off.

But though Romney’s partymates in the U.S. House of Representatives are emphatic that extending the current lower rates is simply not economically feasible unless lawmakers offset them with cuts in other areas, the former Massachusetts governor believes student loan rates must remain at their current levels, at least for the time being, the report said.

“I support extending the temporary relief on interest rates for students,” he said earlier this week, according to the news agency.

Experts say this may be an effort on Romney’s part to curry favor with younger voters who have largely been vociferous in their support for Obama, the report said. Moves toward the center generally come for most candidates as the political process wears on, but Romney’s new answers stand in stark contrast with those he made in late March, when he attacked Obama on the subject, saying that the president was promising something for free that he could not deliver. However, even at that time, he said he believed it was important for rates to remain low.

Student loan use has exploded in the last several years, and though federal financing is intended to be a low-cost alternative to private student loans, many students are finding that this type of credit isn’t enough to cover all the costs related to getting a college education. This has led many to tap a mix of both federal and private student loans to make ends meet, and experts caution that the latter type of loan will have different rules and restrictions when it comes to making payments.

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