Student financial aid is in jeopardy under a bipartisan deal reached Wednesday by Senate Republicans and Democratic aides.
The bipartisan agreement, which would require the Obama administration to waive federal financial assistance for millions of students, could have major consequences for the lives of millions of young Americans, including those who are struggling to pay off college loans.
The deal was agreed to by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.).
The GOP-led House passed a bill that would also waive the federal student loan interest rate requirement for families that do not have a college savings account.
The House bill would also block funding for a $4.8 billion plan by the Obama Administration to help students with student loans.
“This is a deal that we should all be proud of,” said Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D–Ill.).
“This deal makes it more likely that millions of struggling students and families will be able to refinance their loans without paying any more interest on their debt.”
The deal would also give the Education Department $1.2 billion in additional federal student aid for states and school districts that want to waive the interest rate waiver requirement.
A number of states have already begun to waive that requirement.
In addition, the deal would remove a $1 billion cap on the amount of federal aid that could be granted to states and districts that have no public option to enroll students in a public higher education option.
The White House has threatened to veto the bill, which was included in a larger bill that included legislation to reform the nation’s public schools.
Democrats and the White House have argued that eliminating the waiver requirement will help students afford their education and help states and schools meet their obligations to students.
Democrats have argued the waiver would also reduce federal student debt, which they say is $1 trillion.
“I am pleased that our bill ensures that students who have to repay their loans will have the financial tools they need to get the help they need, and that states and localities can focus on making sure that their students can get the education they deserve,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D –Ore.), ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee.
The deal also calls for the Department of Education to release data on student debt for the first time in at least 30 years.
But the White