Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney came out in favor of a proposal to prevent a scheduled hike in the interest rate on federal student loans, siding with President Obama over House Republicans. The rate is scheduled to double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent in July, and Obama began pushing Congress to prevent the increase last week.
Romney joined the effort today during a media availability in Pennsylvania. After Romney finished his allotted time with the press, he returned to the microphone to say he “fully supported” the effort to prevent the increase:
ROMNEY: Particularly with the number of college graduates that can’t find work, or that can only find work well beneath their skill level, I fully support the effort to extend the low interest rate on student loans. There was some concern that would expire halfway through the year, and I support extending the temporary relief on interest rates for students, as a result of student loans, in part because of the extraordinarily poor conditions in the job market.
Romney’s position puts him at odds with House Republicans, who have said they may not act to prevent the hike because it would force them to cut other higher education funding (a choice that is, in fact, not true). Senate Democrats have yet to offer specifics on their package to prevent the increase, though they say they are putting together proposals.
Preventing the hike would cost $6 billion but would protect students who are facing the increasing burden of student loans. Romney did not specify whether he would require Congress to cut spending in order to pay for the cuts.