Student Loan Fairness Act
Rep. Karen Bass joined education advocates at the 2013 Netroots Nation to discuss the student loan debt crisis in America. Everyone agreed: we need proactive solutions to ensure true college accessibility and affordability.
As you may know, total outstanding student loan debt in America has surpassed the $1 trillion mark. It has outpaced credit card debt, auto debt, and is second only to mortgage debt in America. In fact, a recent study shows that student loan debt is the only type of consumer debt in America that has actually increased during the "Great Recession" and the problem only continues to worsen.
As a result of these debts, millions of Americans are not buying cars, purchasing homes, starting businesses, or otherwise realizing the American Dream.
Some lawmakers think the problem is solved because Congress recently passed the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act, but this bill doesn't go far enough. Instead of making sure struggling borrowers have the relief they need, the bill tries to the pay our national debt on the backs of students.
We need a fair and simple federal student loan repayment system and which seeks to alleviate the financial burden of student loan debt on college graduates and support them as they begin their careers and lives.
By creating an equitable system to ease student loan debt we can lessen the financial impact on the next generation while jumpstarting the economy, creating jobs and promoting financial responsibility for higher education.
Summary of the Student Loan Fairness Act
If passed, this legislation would establish a new “10-10” standard for student loan repayment as the new standard repayment plan. In the “10-10” plan, an individual would be required to make ten years of payments at 10% of their discretionary income, after which, their remaining federal student loan debt would be forgiven.
The Student Loan Fairness Act would also combat crushing interest rates of public and private loans by capping federal interest rates at 3.4% and allowing existing borrowers whose educational loan debt exceeds their income to convert their private loan debt into federal Direct Loans, then enrolling their new federal loans into the 10/10 program.
This bill works to jumpstart the economy and adds to the public service workforce by rewarding students who enter public service professions and work in underserved communities with a reduced period for loan forgiveness.
The Student Loan Fairness Act also sends a lifeline to student borrowers who have fallen on difficult times. The bill seeks to ensure that no one will be pushed into poverty because of illness or loss of their job and extends interest-free deferments to unemployed borrowers of unsubsidized federal student loans and those enrolled in the “10-10” repayment plan. It also seeks to replace the current, 10 year “Standard Repayment Plan” for the full amount of the loan balance with the “10-10” plan as the default repayment option for borrowers entering repayment.
The final component of the legislation promotes financial responsibility in higher education and incentivizes students to be mindful of educational costs and for colleges and universities to control tuition increases.
The bill was introduced on March 21, 2013 and was referred to the Education & Workforce Committee.
United States Student Association (USSA), Student Debt Crisis, USAction, American Federation of Teachers, The American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO), The American Osteopathic Association, The Student Labor Action Project, Jobs with Justice / American Rights at Work, American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine, The Non Commissioned Officers Association, IIRON Student Network, The American Student Association of Community Colleges, American Association of University Professors & NAACP
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