Law Funds Highways, Freezes Student Loan Rates

By Miracle Chavis Congress recently passed legislation to renew funding for highways, renewed national flood insurance, and to freeze the interest rates on government-backed student loans. The $120 billion transportation package renews until October 2014. The Senate Vote was 74-19, and the House vote was 373- 52. The government will be contributing its share of spending on infrastructure projects. The federal government itself will also distribute the public funding to help cover the costs. Congressional leaders decided to combine the transportation and student loan legislation into one bill due to the fact that they are both being paid in part by changes in pension laws. Federally backed flood insurance had expired on May 31. This new bill extends the flood insurance program to protect 5.6 million households and businesses. It also addresses a shortfall arising by reducing insurance subsidies for vacation homes and allowing for increases in premiums. The bill freezes interest rates of student loans at 3.4 percent, which will apply to all new loans backed by the government as of July 1. For the first time in history, student loan debt has surpassed credit card debt, and people of color, particularly African Americans, are graduating with more student debt than others. According to the 2010 study by the College Board Advocacy & Policy Center, student loan debt of $30,500 or higher is most common among students of color. “We need to continue to focus on making college more affordable,” said Chairman Emanuel Cleaver.
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