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WASHINGTON – As credit unions continue to make strides with student loans, competing head on with traditional lenders, a new lower consolidation rate this summer could prove to be more of a boon. On July 1, the interest rate on a Stafford loan will drop to 3.37%, the lowest percentage since the Federal Consolidation Loan Program (FCLP) was launched in 1986. Stafford loan interest rates for the 2004-2005 school year were determined by a Treasury bill auction held earlier this week. If borrowers choose to consolidate, the 3.37% will be locked for the life of their loans. Congress is also exploring the idea of changing FCLP’s structure to set a variable rate in lieu of a fixed rate. Legislators say the idea is that the borrower can save more when rates are low. USC Credit Union in Los Angeles, University FCU in Austin, Texas, Navy FCU, Security Service FCU in San Antonio and America First CU in Riverdale, Utah were recently ranked among the nation’s top loan originators through the Federal Family Education Loan Program.

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