The Nov. 3 editorial "Making Students Pay" said that the Senate higher education bill increases costs for students.

In fact, the Congressional Budget Office verifies that our bill provides more than $11 billion in new need-based aid and other benefits for students, which increase college access, not costs. In dollar terms, the bill provides the second-largest increase in grant-aid history.

And with interest rates going up -- as they have after each of the Federal Reserve board's past 12 meetings -- our bill fixes student loan rates today so that students won't be hit by high interest rates tomorrow. The Senate bill's small increase in interest rates on education loans taken out by parents (from 7.9 percent to 8.5 percent) still leaves families with a far better option than the 12.9 percent they would pay in today's private market.

The editorial also did not note that the Senate bill includes several provisions that ensure strong competition between the two federal student loan programs, providing students with access to significant new benefits.

The subject of student loans is complicated, but one thing is simple: The Senate bill is about helping students, not banks.

EDWARD KENNEDY

U.S. Senator (D-Mass.)

MIKE ENZI

U.S. Senator (R-Wyo.)

Washington