WASHINGTON -

Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., cosponsored a bill Tuesday that would allow students to pay the same interest rate on their federally subsidized Stafford loans as big banks get when they borrow money from the Federal Reserve.

On July 1st of this year, student loan interest rates are set to jump from 3.4 to 6.8 percent, while banks can borrow from the Fed’s discount window at a rate of approximately .75 percent.

“The strength and vitality of our economy depends on students having access to higher education," Merkley said. "Massive debt and high interest will either block that access or greatly diminish students’ options. Neither is good or acceptable.”

“At a time when Americans owe more student loan debt than credit card debt, the last thing we can afford is for student loan interest rates to double this summer," the senator added. "I’m proud to cosponsor this bill to give students the same deal enjoyed by our biggest financial institutions.”

The bill was sponsored by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

Student loan debt is the second-highest amount of debt Americans face, behind mortgage debt, surpassing credit card debt in recent years.