TYLER (KYTX) - After months of gridlock, U.S. lawmakers finally passed a bill setting student loan rates.
And the good news is Congress has actually lowered rates to make college more affordable for students.
Congress okayed a measure to put loan rates at just under 4 percent.
That's a lot less for kids hitting classes this fall after rates shot up to nearly 7 percent last month.
Fortunately, the new rates are retroactive so students won't feel that financial increase at all.
Students have already started lining up to get financial aid in order for the fall.
"Some awards, some grants, scholarships, loans. Yes," says Shelley Bernardelly.
Bernardelly is putting her third child through college.
She's been watching the loan rate debate closely.
"With our economy, I have no idea, I have no idea what's going to happen. I do know it fluctuates and it's hard. But you have to get an education," says Bernardelly.
That's why they started working on paperwork early.
Interest rates doubled to 6.8% July first because congress failed to act.
Now loans for this fall's undergraduates are set to drop to 3.9%.
"My goal is to graduate with no debt," says high school senior Andrew Scott.
Scott is getting ready a year early.
He'll be a senior in high school this year.
But knows he wants to avoid the uncertainty of loan rates.
"The interest especially, yes. But I really don't want to graduate with debt hanging over my head because after I graduate, I'd like to begin my job and start going on with the rest of my life," says Scott.
Students understand getting to the classroom is important for the future.
"Education is supposed to be the key to the future," says Scott.
But Bernardelly has learned it's about watching rates, staying ahead and doing anything she can as a parent to help her kids.
"It's not an option, have to do what you have to do," says Bernardelly.
Because rates can rise year-to-year as the economy improves, the new bill puts a cap on interest rates.
No one will pay more than 10.5%.
And the rates are different depending on whether the person paying is an undergraduate, graduate student, or a parent paying.
About 18 million loans will be affected by the new rates, totaling about 106 billion dollars this coming school year.
The president is expected to sign the measure into law.