House OKs bill to reduce rates on student loans
WASHINGTON A bipartisan bill that would reduce the costs of borrowing for millions of students passed the House on Wednesday and was heading to President Barack Obama for his signature. The legislation links student loan interest rates to the financial markets, offering lower rates for most students now but higher ones down the line if the economy improves as expected. Even as they were preparing to pass the bill, many lawmakers were already talking about a broader overhaul of the nation’s colleges to curb fast-climbing costs. Undergraduates this fall would borrow at a 3.9 percent interest rate for subsidized and unsubsidized loans. Graduate students would have access to loans at 5.4 percent, and parents would borrow at 6.4 percent. The rates would be locked in for that year’s loan, but each year’s loan could be more expensive than the last. Rates would rise as the economy picks up and it becomes more expensive for the government to borrow money. But for now, interest payments for tuition, housing and books would be less expensive under the House-passed bill. With changes made in the Senate – most notably a cap on how interest rates could climb and locking in interest rates for the life of each year’s loan – Democrats dropped their objections and joined Republicans backing the bill. Interest rates would not top 8.25 percent for undergraduates. Graduate students would not pay rates higher than 9.5 percent, and parents’ rates would top out at 10.5 percent. Using Congressional Budget Office estimates, rates would not reach those limits in the next 10 years.
Facebook clears symbolic stock hurdle
NEW YORK Facebook has found redemption in the form of a soaring stock price. On Wednesday, the share price of the world’s most populous social network –and human data repository– briefly crept past $38 for the first time since its rocky public debut last May. In doing so, Facebook cleared a symbolic hurdle that has eluded the company for more than a year. Facebook’s ill-fated first trading day on May 18, 2012 was marred by technological glitches on the Nasdaq stock market. The stock closed with a disappointing 23-cent gain. And its performance didn’t improve, hitting a low of $17.55 last September. On Wednesday, the stock traded as high as $38.31 before closing at $36.80, a price that places the company’s value at around $89 billion.
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The Associated Press contributed.