Senators Work to Address Student Loans

Introduce Bills Providing More Options for Lower Costs and Less Hassle

As the cost of a college degree continues to increase, U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Jack Reed (D-RI), and Mike Braun (R-IN) introduced the State-Based Education Loan Awareness Act. The legislation would eliminate disincentives and penalties that prevent universities from informing students about low-cost student loans offered by non-profit, state agency lenders whose mission is to make college affordable and accessible. Click here for more information on the State-Based Education Loan Awareness Act.

“As a mother and a member of Congress, I have long been concerned about the cost of college and the barriers our young people face in affording a higher education. I have long prioritized making higher education more attainable and affordable for Alaska’s students. No one should forgo pursuing an education for fear that they can’t afford it,” said Senator Murkowski. “Colleges should be able to help students find affordable loans offered by the non-profit state agencies created to serve them if they need additional resources after accepting grants and federal student aid. I’m proud to lead legislation that will allow Americans to be more fully informed of their options, opening the door for more students to pursue greater educational opportunities.”

“It’s essential that students and families are presented with accurate and complete information about their financial options as they put together a plan to pay for college,” said Senator Reed.  “Far too many students are unaware about additional resources state agencies can provide.  This bill will help to shine a light on additional options and will help more students pay for college and set the stage for a successful career.”

“It is important that Hoosier students are better educated on the financing options available to them for higher education. I am proud to co-sponsor this bill that, specifically in Indiana, promotes the INvestED program that provides competitive financing for students seeking a post-secondary credential with special benefits for students who graduate on time,” said Senator Braun.

“Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education research shows that more than half of the Alaska students who take out student loans pay more than they need to pay.  In fact, students who are not informed of state and non-profit education loan programs risk paying more than double the rates available through their state programs.  On behalf of our Alaska students, the Commission is deeply grateful to Senator Murkowski for her work to ensure that students take advantage of non-loan aid as their first option, and – if they need loans – have access to information about programs designed to keep their borrowing costs as low as possible,” said Stephanie Butler, Executive Director of Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education.

"Borrowers, whether student or parents, face a daunting task of navigating the student financial loan landscape. Likewise, institutions of higher education face a strict and cumbersome process of identifying lenders to borrowers. Dedicated financial aid officers at institutions work to find the right solutions and options for students. This legislation enables state-based lenders to be eligible for listing by institutions without the burdensome regulatory process used currently," said Dr. Paul Layer, VP for Academic Affairs of University of Alaska.

U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Kevin Cramer (R-ND) have also co-sponsored the State-Based Education Loan Awareness Act.

Senators Murkowski and Reed also introduced the Student Loan Repayment Freedom Act, which is intended to make the process of repaying federal student loans more efficient and less expensive by allowing borrowers to switch from one income-based repayment plan to another without first having to make a payment under Standard Repayment or go into forbearance. Click here for more information on the Student Loan Repayment Freedom Act.

“We know that repaying federal student loans can be an expensive and frustrating process. The Student Loan Repayment Act aims to simplify that process, giving borrowers the ability to pay under the plan that best suits their needs, with the least amount of hassle,” said Senator Murkowski. “I am encouraged by this progress and will continue to work with my colleagues on the Senate HELP Committee to develop additional solutions.”

“Repaying federal student loans is a confusing, expensive challenge for many students nationwide, and it’s important that student borrowers are able to switch to a repayment plan that fits their needs without endless delay or red tape,” said Senator Reed.  “The Student Loan Repayment Freedom Act puts borrowers in the driver’s seat and makes it easier for them to select the plan that fits their specific needs.”

Senator Murkowski also continues to work with her colleagues on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee to craft a comprehensive update of the Higher Education Act.

Related Issues: Education