Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said on Thursday that he expects the U.S. economy to return to a long-term growth rate around three percent over time.

Speaking to students at George Washington University, he said U.S. growth was below its long-term trend now, still in a relatively weak recovery following the 2007-2009 financial crisis.

We are below the trend line, there are debates about whether or not that decline is in some way permanent, Bernanke said. But I think there's a reasonable chance...that the U.S. economy will return to healthy growth somewhere in the three percent range.

(Reporting By Glenn Somerville)