Illinois’ U.S. senators hope the 100 percent increase in the interest rate for student loans is temporary. The subsidized Stafford loan – and only new ones, at that – has gone from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent, thanks to congressional inaction. U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), objecting to the fluidity of rates a House version permits, says, “The students and their families, deeply in debt, don’t need an additional interest burden.”
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“It's such a pressing issue,” says U.S. Sen. Mark S. Kirk (R-Ill.). “The Senate has a way of lurching ahead pretty quickly on stuff where there's bi-partisan consensus.” Another thing the Senate has a way of doing, says Kirk, is taking breaks. “I wish we worked harder,” he says.