The bill will retroactively lower interests rates as of July 1, counteracting the earlier doubling of student loan interest rates . As of now, the undergraduate Stafford rate will be 3.86 percent, while the graduate Stafford rate will be 5.41 percent. PLUS loans, which go to parents and graduate students, will be 6.41 percent for the 2013-2014 school year. The legislation will also tie interest rates to market rates and the 10-year Treasury note and cap the interest rates at 8.25 percent for undergraduate loans, 9.5 percent for graduate loans, and 10.5 percent for PLUS loans. These caps are all higher than the current rates.
Although proponents of the bill claim it is a long term solution, opponents have criticized it for likely shouldering future students with higher rates. Senator Elizabeth Warren, one of the 16 Democratic Senators who voted against the bill, says that the bill "asks tomorrow's students to pay more in order to finance lower rates today." She proposed an amendment with Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) to cap interest rates at current rates, but the amendment failed. Another amendment proposed by Senator Bernard Sanders (I-VT) to extend the new rates for two years also failed.
Media Resources: Sources: USA Today 7/24/13; Politico 7/24/13; Washington Post 7/24/13; Time 7/1/13; Bloomberg 7/24/13
8/31/2015 Chicago Activists Continue Hunger Strike to Save Predominately Black Public High School - Chicago residents have entered the second week of their hunger strike protesting the closure of Dyett High School, in the predominately African-American Bronzeville neighborhood located on the South Side of Chicago.
Parents and community members are calling on the Chicago Board of Education to keep Dyett - the only open-enrollment, neighborhood school in its area - open and accept a community plan to revitalize the school with a focus on science and green technology. . . .
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .