Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston) has introduced legislation that would create a Student Loan Bill of Rights.
The act (2018-H 7881) would authorize the creation of the position of student loan ombudsman within the office of the Commissioner of Postsecondary Education.
“By several measures, student loan debt has increased greatly in the last 10 years,” said McNamara, chairman of the House Committee on Health, Education and Welfare. “Total student loan debt has increased from $350 billion to approximately $1.2 trillion since 2004. It has surpassed the amount households owe on auto loans, home equity loans and credit cards. This legislation will help to address the crisis by creating a position that will help students resolve complaints by collaborating with student loan providers and institutions of higher learning.”
The duties of the ombudsman would be to attempt to resolve complaints from student loan borrowers, compile and analyze data on such complaints, and to otherwise assist student loan borrowers. The act would also provide that the commissioner of postsecondary education would review and evaluate applications for licensure as a student loan issuer.
“Parents and students are borrowing now more than ever to pay for educational opportunities,” said McNamara. “While we have loan forgiveness and repayment programs, along with tax deductions, credits and refinancing, it is imperative that students have an advocate who will help them understand the loan process and their fundamental rights when it comes to the administration of student loans. Many students are not fully aware of how much they are borrowing to pay for college. There is a correlation between this giving this information and student borrowing.”
The bill, which is cosponsored by Representatives Camille F.J. Vella-Wilkinson (D-Dist. 21, Warwick), David A. Bennett (D-Dist. 20, Warwick, Cranston), Julie Casimiro (D-Dist. 31, North Kingstown, Exeter) and Mia Ackerman (D-Dist. 45, Cumberland, Lincoln), has been referred to the House Finance Committee.