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President Obama has signed a law that finalizes his health care overhaul and makes the government the issuer of all federal college loans.
The president completed the measure at Northern Virginia Community College, where he emphasized new help for college students.
The legislation was the second of two steps needed for the Democratic-led House and Senate to approve a health care package affecting virtually all Americans. The new law makes a series of fixes to the one Obama approved last week. It removes some unpopular provisions among other changes.
In the same swoop, Democrats added in a rewriting of college aid.
The new law strips banks of their ability to issue federal student loans in favor of direct government lending.
Obama's hard-fought legislative victory packaged two of his domestic priorities. Obama already signed the bulk of the health care legislation, but a final set of tweaks provided a route for the education package, the largest rewrite of federal college assistance programs in four decades.
The legislation has a wide reach. About half of undergraduates receive federal student aid and about 8.5 million students are going to college with the help of Pell Grants.
Under the measure, private banks would no longer get fees for acting as middlemen in federal student loans. The government would use the savings to boost Pell Grants and make it easier for some workers to repay their student loans. In addition, some borrowers could see lower interest rates and higher approval rates on student loans.
Obama has touted the changes as a way to make college more affordable for students and their debt load more manageable after graduation. He used his weekend radio and Internet address to cite expected benefits for young people: more student lending, caps on those repayments and more money for minority colleges and universities.
"This reform of the federal student loan programs will save taxpayers $68 billion over the next decade," Obama said in his weekly address. "And with this legislation, we're putting that money to use achieving a goal I set for America: By the end of this decade, we will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world."
The plan caps student loan repayment at 10 percent of a graduate's income when the law takes effect in 2014.
This program aired on March 30, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.
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