(Adds link to BREAKINGVIEWS column)
WASHINGTON, June 9 President Barack Obama on
Monday signed an executive order making it easier for up to 5
million people to pay off college tuition debt, and scolded
congressional Republicans for opposing legislation that would
lower student-loan borrowing costs.
Obama signed an executive order allowing more people to
limit repayments of federal student loans to 10 percent of their
monthly incomes. The action will not take effect until December
The administration will also try to lower student costs by
renegotiating government contracts with companies like Sallie
Mae that service student loans, he said.
The president said Congress should also take steps to ease
debt burdens on students, 71 percent of whom earn bachelor's
degrees with debt, which averages $29,400.
Senate Democrats have proposed legislation that would allow
millions of Americans to refinance both federal and private
undergraduate student loans at lower interest rates.
The bill is unlikely to overcome the opposition of
Republicans, who say the measure would come at too high a cost
for the government. Obama said Republicans were not doing enough
to support students, arguing that it should be possible for
graduates to get a lower interest rate in the same way
homeowners are able to.
"If you're a Big Oil company, they'll go to bat for you," he
said. "If you're a student, good luck."
(Reporting By Mark Felsenthal; Editing by David Gregorio)