Washington, DC — This week, Congresswomen Lucy McBath (D-GA), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), and Susan Wild (D-PA) introduced legislation to ease the transition back into repayment for student loan borrowers.

The Student Loan Borrower Safety Net Act would safeguard student loan borrowers when the Department of Education’s three-year-long COVID-19 Loan Payment Pause ends, which is expected to take place no later than June 30, 2023. The legislation would increase outreach to borrowers, simplify enrollment in more affordable repayment plans, provide protections for those who miss a payment during the transition, and more.  

“As students in Georgia and across our country pursue higher education, we should be doing all we can to set them up for future success,” said Congresswoman Lucy McBath. “Our bill is an important step in improving transparency and implementing educational resources to help borrowers safeguard their financial futures and transition back to repayment. I’m proud to join my colleagues again in introducing this bill, and I thank them for their support as we work to protect and empower the American people.”

“The student loan repayment pause is providing needed relief for borrowers in Oregon and across the country at a time of unprecedented financial instability,” said Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici. “Returning to repayment may still be difficult for some, especially borrowers who are at risk of delinquency and default. I’m pleased to be leading the Student Loan Borrower Safety Net Act with Reps. McBath and Wild to give borrowers the support and protections they need during the transition to repayment. I look forward to getting this important legislation over the finish line and working with the Department of Education on its implementation.” 

“My district is home to the thousands of students who attend our world-class colleges and universities, so I know how critical it is that we support students in navigating the often-confusing student loan repayment system, especially after several years of repayment suspension,” said Congresswoman Susan Wild. “That’s why I’m so proud to introduce this legislation to give student borrowers the tools and information they need to understand their debt obligations and take control of their financial health.” 

The Student Loan Borrower Safety Net Act is supported by The Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS), New America, National Education Association, American Federation of Teachers, Pew Charitable Trusts, National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA), Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), and The Education Trust. 

“Americans carrying the burden of student loan debt are still struggling to make ends meet—that hasn’t changed, despite the looming end of the bipartisan pause in repayments,” said American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten. “The Student Loan Borrower Safety Net Act recognizes that the transition back to repayment may be a bumpy one for borrowers, and it helps to smooth that road by extending application and recertification deadlines for income-driven repayment and making other commonsense changes to be put in place during the transition. The AFT appreciates Reps. Suzanne Bonamici, Lucy McBath, and Susan Wild for acknowledging this problem and proposing a solution that complements the Biden administration’s efforts to improve income-driven repayment and provide the student debt relief that far-right special interests have tied up in the courts.”

"If the Education Department resumes federal student loan payments as planned, it is imperative that borrowers be protected from financial harm and have easy access to clear information and affordable repayment options,” said Michele Shepard, TICAS Senior Director of College Affordability. “We applaud Reps. Bonamici, McBath, and Wild for introducing this important legislation to create key safety nets for millions of borrowers."  

"If the Department of Education restarts payments later this year as announced, easier access to low and $0 payments will be important protections for all borrowers, but especially those hit hardest by the pandemic," said Sarah Sattelmeyer, Project Director for Education, Opportunity, and Mobility at New America.

The Student Loan Borrower Safety Act will protect borrowers of federal student loans during the transition period following the end of the COVID-19 Loan Payment Pause by:

  • Providing earlier and more frequent outreach to borrowers that their payments are to resume;
  • Prioritizing notification to vulnerable borrowers;
  • Simplifying borrowers’ enrollment in the most generous and affordable income-driven repayment (IDR) plans, including those that may be available upon the publication of the Department of Education’s regulations improving the affordability of its IDR plans;
  • Clarifying borrowers’ access to economic hardship support; and
  • Codifying protections for borrowers who miss a payment or payments upon the end of the payment pause. 

A summary of the legislation can be found here, and the full text can be found here.