U.S. President Barack Obama on Saturday urged lawmakers to stop playing politics and pass legislation to extend student loan subsidies due to expire at the end of June.
"We are eight days away from nearly seven and a half million students seeing their loan rates double because Congress hasn't acted to stop it," Obama said in his weekly address.
Barring the extension, the interest rates on new federally subsidized student loans will increase from 3.4 percent, a temporary rate reduction that was enacted in 2007, to 6.8 percent from July 1.
Obama said making sure all Americans get the best education possible is one of the most important things for the U.S. economy.
"Right now, the unemployment rate for Americans with a college degree or more is about half the national average. Their incomes are twice as high as those who don't have a high school diploma," Obama said.
Obama has repeatedly criticized Republicans over the student loan legislation. However, lawmakers on both sides expressed hope that they were nearing a deal with an agreement expected to be announced next week.
In May, Republican Senators blocked the Democrats-sponsored bill although both sides and the administration wanted to prevent interest rates on a popular student loan from doubling on July 1. However, they remained deadlocked over how to pay for it.
The Education Department estimates that 7.4 million students will borrow such loans in the year beginning July 1, an average of 4,226 U. S. dollars for each student.
A report released by the non-profit College Board last October showed tuition and fees at U.S. public universities and colleges have increased more than 8 percent in the 2011-2012 academic year as a weakened economy and severe cuts in state funding took their toll.