REPORT: House approves bill permitting married couples to separate student loans
The move to allow married couples to separate consolidated student loan debt may increase the number of people eligible for the Biden administration’s debt cancellation.
House Republicans who opposed the plan claimed that the bill does not protect both borrowers and argued that it increased the Department of Education's authority over federal loans owned by private entities.
The United States House of Representatives passed a bill on September 21 to allow married couples to separate consolidated student loan debt, a move that may increase the number of people eligible for the Biden administration’s debt cancellation.
The Joint Consolidation Loan Separation Act “allows two borrowers, who had previously received a joint consolidation loan for their federal student loan debt, to submit a joint application to the Department of Education [DOEd] to sever their consolidated loan into two separate loans,” the bill explains.
Borrowers subjected to “domestic or economic abuse from the other individual borrower” may submit a separate application to the DOEd. The act stipulates that “the other borrower” would then become “solely liable for the remaining balance of the joint consolidation loan.”
The bill cleared the House 232-193 after being pushed through the Senate, where it received Unanimous Consent. It will now be sent to the Oval Office for Biden’s signature.
Virginia Senator Mark Warner (D- VA), who sponsored the bill, celebrated the news on Twitter, stating:
BREAKING: FOLKS, WE DID IT! My bill to help those that are stuck in consolidated student loans passed the House, and it’s headed to the President’s desk for a final signature. I’ve been working on getting these borrowers justice for so many years, and finally it is within reach!
— Mark Warner (@MarkWarner) September 21, 2022
North Carolina Representative, Democrat David Price, co-sponsor of the bill, tweeted:
I am elated that my Joint Consolidation Loan Separation Act passed the House and is now heading to @POTUS to sign into law!
While this moment is long overdue, today would not be possible without the borrowers, who have relentlessly advocated for loan separation. pic.twitter.com/uPbMZ0hGYh
— Rep. David E. Price (@RepDavidEPrice) September 21, 2022
Price told Campus Reform in a statement that the bill was "in direct response to a constituent's experience with a joint consolidation loan for which he remained wholly responsible for after a divorce."
"I am delighted by the passage of this common-sense bill that will bring immense relief to borrowers who are victims of abusive or uncommunicative spouses,” he continued. “For decades, these borrowers have been trapped, with no legal options available, and this bill will give them the ability to regain their financial freedom. I look forward to this bill arriving on the President’s desk and delivering for America’s federal student debt borrowers.”
Biden’s student loan plan cancels up to $20,000 in student loan debt for borrowers who received Pell Grants, and up to $10,000 for borrowers who did not. Only borrowers who make less than $125,000 are eligible.
House Republicans who opposed the plan claimed that the bill does not protect both borrowers and argued that the bill increased DOEd's authority over federal loans owned by private entities, The Washington Post reports.
Severed loans will be divided based on the proportion of debt accumulated by each individual borrower, the bill reads. The two loans would have the same interest rate accrued while consolidated.
Campus Reform contacted both bill sponsors for comment and will update this article accordingly.
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