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SHAHEEN INTRODUCES BILL TO HELP STUDENTS MANAGE DEBT

Shaheen’s legislation would give students access to comprehensive online database to manage debt and better navigate repayment

March 11, 2014

(Washington, DC) – In a new effort to help students better manage their debt burden, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) introduced legislation today that will strengthen an existing federal student loan data system to give students more comprehensive access to and a better understanding of debt and repayment options. Shaheen’s proposal, the Simplifying Access to Student Loan Information Act, calls for the development of a central online portal that will allow students to review all their public and private student loans as well as repayment options in one place, which would in turn help students better manage, understand and repay their debt.

“While higher education is one of the best investments we can make to keep our country a magnet for jobs and economic opportunity, the soaring costs of higher education are pushing middle class families and students into debt,” Shaheen said. “For many Americans, student debt prevents them from buying a home, getting married, starting a family and pursuing career goals.”

“We need to not only make college more affordable and accessible, but better help students manage their costs and debts after they graduate,” Shaheen continued. “My proposal will give students in New Hampshire and across the country tools to help better manage repayment, know their options and get help when they need it.” 

Nationally, students hold nearly $1.2 trillion in student debt, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the Project on Student Debt estimates that 74 percent of New Hampshire students leave school carrying loan debt. In total, the group also estimates average debt for New Hampshire students is nearly $33,000. Shaheen’s legislation would help students manage their debt burden and navigate the borrowing and repayment processes with confidence.

Specifically, the Simplifying Access to Student Loan Information Act would amend the Higher Education Act and the Truth in Lending Act to expand the National Student Loan Data System to include comprehensive student loan information for both private and public student loans. Currently, only federal student loan information is available within the database. Shaheen’s proposal would create a virtual one-stop shop where students and borrowers can better manage their debt and gain easier, more comprehensive access to debt and repayment options. Additionally, the legislation Shaheen introduced today would require the Secretary of Education to establish a competitive five-year pilot program to encourage non-traditional, personalized outreach to student borrowers to encourage better communication, which would ultimately lead to the development of suggested best practices for reducing default, forbearance and deferment rates.

Throughout her career Shaheen has worked to make college more affordable and accessible, leading efforts to increase access to higher education for New Hampshire students and voting to maintain low interest rates for Stafford loans  and the Pay As You Earn repayment plan to help students and families manage college tuition. Shaheen’s legislation follows a recent call to the President, urging him to work with Congress on a plan to lower student debt.

The full text of the Simplifying Access to Student Loan Information Act is available here, and the following organizations, colleges and universities have endorsed Shaheen’s bill:

  • Colby Sawyer College
  • Community College System of New Hampshire
  • Dartmouth College
  • Franklin Pierce University
  • Granite State College
  • Keene State College
  • National Association for College Admission Counseling
  • New England Association for College Admission Counseling
  • New England College
  • New Hampshire Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators
  • New Hampshire College & University Council
  • New Hampshire Higher Education Assistance Foundation
  • New Hampshire Institute of Art
  • Plymouth State University
  • Rivier University
  • Saint Anselm College
  • Southern New Hampshire University
  • University of New Hampshire

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