1 student loan bill you might not know ready for Biden’s signature
TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — While student debt relief has divided politicians in both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, a student loan bill that has garnered bipartisan support is the Joint Consolidation Loans Separation Actsponsored by Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Mark Warner (D-Va.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas).
The bill has passed both the House and the Senate and is now on its way to President Joe Biden for a signature or veto. If it wins Biden’s approval, the bill will allow student borrowers to split their loans if they divorce their spouse, removing consolidated debt and dividing for each individual. Rep. David Price (DN.C.) introduced the version of the companion bill in the U.S. House.
In a statement provided by Senator Rubio’s office, the senator said the bill would give borrowers a way to prevent borrowers from being responsible for their ex-spouse’s debt.
“Survivors of domestic violence should never have to pay their abuser’s debts,” Rubio said in the statement. “This legislation would provide financial independence to survivors who previously consolidated their student loan debt with their partner. I am proud to join Senators Warner and Cornyn in reintroducing this bill, and I urge my colleagues in the Senate to support this bill to provide relief to these people.
According to the information on the invoice provided by the offices of Warner and Rubio, the Joint Consolidation Loan Separation Act solves an oversight problem that has plagued Americans in debt since 2006. From 1993 to June 2006, the US Department of Education provided joint consolidation loans to married couples, according to the explanation of a senators page. While the program was “eliminated” by the US Congress in 2006, a way to separate consolidated loans “even in cases of domestic violence, economic abuse, or an insensitive partner” was not provided.
Due to the lack of a method of separation, “there are borrowers across the country who remain responsible for their abusive or uncommunicative spouse’s share of student loan debt, and “no legal options for relief “.
Passage of the JCL Act would allow the USDOE to separate consolidated loans and let borrowers submit applications to do so in multiple circumstances.
Allow two borrowers to submit a joint request to break their JCL or allow a borrower to submit a separate request in certain circumstances, including where:
- A borrower is a victim of domestic or economic violence
- A borrower has certified that the borrowers are unable to reach or reasonably access the other borrower’s loan information
- An individual application is deemed appropriate by the Secretary of Education
under the bill, loans that are separated after consolidation will retain the interest rate of the joint consolidation loan. Additionally, “each borrower will be able to transfer eligible payments made on the JCL to income-based repayment programs and the Civil Service Loan Cancellation Program.” The JCL is said, by its supporters, to provide a necessary separation for victims of domestic violence from their spouses.
“Victims of domestic violence fleeing their dangerous living situations should not find themselves burdened with their partner’s debt as they try to move on with their lives,” Warner said. “Unfortunately, this is the reality for some Americans who are stuck with joint consolidation loans. This sensible bill would help a vulnerable population unfairly held accountable for their former spouse’s debt by giving them the opportunity to regain their financial independence. .
While Rubio’s bill passed the Senate unanimously in June, in the House, it went 232-193. In Florida’s congressional delegation, only state House Democrats voted to approve the Rubio-sponsored measure, according to US House Clerk records. 14 Republican members of the House voted in favor of the measure, while seven representatives across the aisle did not vote on the bill at all.
The bill has received support from more than lawmakers, but also advocates for victims of domestic violence. Rubio and Warner’s paper says the National Network to End Domestic Violence, the National Consumer Law Center, the North Carolina Coalition against Domestic Violence, and the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance all spoke in favor of the measure.
“When survivors escape the violence, they should be able to start over without the debts of their abusers. We applaud this bill for creating a solution for survivors who consolidated their loans in good faith or under duress and are now rebuilding their lives,” said Monica McLaughlin, director of public policy at the National Network to End Domestic Violence.
Now that the bill is on its way to Biden, it’s up to the president to approve or reject the loan separation legislation.