FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
December 11th, 2017
CONTACT: Natalia Abrams
Statement on the House GOP Higher Education Bill (PROSPER Act)
Student Debt Crisis strongly opposes the so-called ‘PROSPER Act’ in its current form. The bill introduced last week by Rep. Virginia Foxx, chair of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, is an attempt at overhauling the Higher Education Act. If passed, the plan would increase the cost of college and substantially grow America’s $1.5 trillion student debt crisis.
The House GOP’s proposal would replace current income-driven repayment plans. The existing plans are designed to make payments affordable for millions of Americans with federal student loans. The new, replacement program would eliminate, for future borrowers, debt forgiveness that is currently offered to those who complete one of the existing plans.
Additionally, the bill proposes the elimination of the federal government’s Direct Loan system. Doing so would effectively end the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. Congress created the forgiveness program in 2007 to help vital, but often underpaid, public service workers pay for college. However, borrowers must have a federal Direct Loan to qualify. The new education bill would disqualify over half a million Americans from receiving loan forgiveness and prevent countless more from applying in the future.
“It is unconscionable,” said executive director Natalia Abrams, “the GOP is willing to break a long-held promise to nurses, teachers, first-responders and other crucial public service workers who earn student loan relief by supporting our communities.”
“Our supporters have called for simplification of complex federal repayment plans, but the GOP bill goes too far. Completely eliminating the current repayment and forgiveness options does nothing to improve results for borrowers in repayment. It is not the student loan reform Americans have been asking for.”
We fear that these proposed changes to the Higher Education Act are part of a larger plan to decrease public investment in education and force hard-working families to shoulder the costs. First, the GOP tax plan targeted benefits for student loan borrowers. Now, their proposed higher education plan dismantles programs that make loan repayment easier.
Congress cannot pretend to address the concerns of students, parents and borrowers while doing nothing to actually help Americans manage their growing student loan debt.
Student Debt Crisis is a nationwide advocacy group with over 1,000,000 supporters calling for fair student loan and higher education policies.