The Senate on Thursday failed to take up two separate bills that would have lowered the interest rate on subsidized student loans, now set to double on July 1 to 6.8%.
Some 7 million undergraduates may have to dig deeper in their pockets when they pay off the loans upon graduation, if Congress can't come to a deal.
This time, the White House and Congress agree that something should be done, but they don't agree on what.
On Thursday, neither a Democratic nor a Republican bill got the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster.
The Democratic bill would be a replay of last year, extending the 3.4% interest rates for another two years.
The Republican bill resembles a House-passed bill last month that would stop the rates from doubling by tying them to 10-year Treasury notes. Under that plan, rates would remain relatively low now, but would grow as the economy improves and interest rates rise.
The impending July 1 rate hike will only affect undergraduates who have subsidized loans, in which the federal government absorbs some of the interest rate. This makes up about a third of undergraduate loans, which are awarded based on economic need.
Far more undergraduates take out unsubsidized loans, whose rates have been at 6.8% since 2007. These interest rates will remain the same for most middle-class undergraduate and graduate students.