WASHINGTON -

Congressional bargainers are closing in on an agreement that would head off a July 1 doubling of interest rates on federal loans to 7.4 million college students.

Senate aides from both parties say the two sides were moving toward a deal on how to pay the measure's $6 billion price tag, the chief source of partisan conflict.

The goal is to push legislation through Congress next week so the current 3.4 percent interest rate on subsidized Stafford loans can be preserved for another year. A 2007 law gradually reduced interest rates on the loans but required them to balloon back to 6.8 percent this July 1 in a cost-saving maneuver.

The aides spoke on condition of anonymity to divulge details of the negotiations.