Nevada lawmakers back measures to freeze student loan interest rates | NevadaAppeal.com

Nevada lawmakers back measures to freeze student loan interest rates

Nevada Appeal Capitol Bureau

Both Rep. Shelley Berkley and Sen. Dean Heller, who are opponents in this year’s race for Heller’s Senate seat, are sponsoring legislation to prevent an increase in interest rates for federally subsidized student loans.

Without congressional action, those interest rates would double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent on July 1.

Heller, a Republican, said that with two of his children in college, he understands the financial burdens of college.

He said education is key to success in this country.

“During these tough economic times, Americans find it increasingly difficult to pay for college, and graduates find themselves burdened with high levels of debt,” he said. “For these reasons, I am pleased to support this important legislation.”

His announcement didn’t say how the extension would be paid for.

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Berkley, a Democrat, joined in sponsoring similar legislation in the House, saying it would save the 7.4 million students with those loans an average of $1,000 apiece in extra debt. Berkley’s House legislation pays for the cost of freezing student loan interest rates by eliminating tax breaks for big oil and gas companies.

“It’s time Washington stands on the side of America’s middle class and end the billions in unnecessary taxpayer-funded giveaways funneled every year to the oil industry,” she said.

Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., voted Friday for another bill to extend the interest reduction – also a plan with a twist. It would repeal the Prevention and Public Health Fund within the federal health care law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Amodei termed that fund a “slush fund,” allowing the Obama administration to spend money without further congressional oversight.

Amodei said extending the reduced interest rate will cost about $6 billion, but eliminating that portion of the health care act would save $12 billion. He said the $6 billion in savings would go toward deficit reduction. The plan passed the House 215-195.