By Ted Barrett, CNN
Washington (CNN) - A bipartisan group of senators announced an agreement on a student loans package Thursday that would cap rates, ending a standoff that lasted months and broke through a July 1 deadline for finding a solution.
Under the compromise measure, undergraduate students would pay a rate of 3.85% next year on subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford loans. The plan would cap rates on loans to undergrads at 8.25%, for graduate students at 9.5% and parents at 10.5%.
"While this is not the agreement that any of us would have written, and many of us would like to have seen something quite different, I believe we have come a very long way on reaching common ground," Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the Democratic whip in the Senate, said at a press conference Thursday.
Sen. Tom Harkin, the Democratic chairman of the committee that oversees federal education programs, also was present in announcing the deal. The Iowa senator had resisted for weeks agreeing to a plan unless it included caps on how high the interest rates on the loans could rise.
By Ted Barrett and Ashley Killough, CNN
(CNN) - Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kansas, faulted Senate Democrats on Saturday for this week's hike in student loan interest rates and urged the upper chamber to pass legislation that resolves the issue as soon as the holiday recess ends.
"For too long, politicians have been in charge of setting these rates, and we keep coming back to cliffs and deadlines like this one," Jenkins said in the GOP weekly address. "Paying for college is difficult enough without all this uncertainty. I have two kids in college, I know how hard it can be."
The interest rates on some student loans officially doubled Monday – to 6.8% from 3.4% – after the Senate failed to reach a compromise by the July 1 deadline.
The hike hits about seven million new subsidized Stafford loans this year for middle- and low-income students, but does not apply to existing loans.
Negotiators are stuck largely on the question of whether to require an overall cap above which interest rates on new loans could not rise.