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Rubio, Warner Reintroduce Bicameral, Bipartisan Legislation to Ensure Domestic Violence Survivors Are No Longer Responsible for Former Spouses’ Student Loan Debt
Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Mark R. Warner (D-VA), and John Cornyn (R-TX) reintroduced bicameral, bipartisan legislation that would provide much-needed relief for individuals who previously consolidated their student loan debt with their spouse. While Congress eliminated the joint consolidation program in 2006, it did not provide a way for borrowers to sever existing loans, even in the event of domestic violence, economic abuse, or unresponsiveness from a former partner. The Joint Consolidation Loan Separation Act would fix this oversight, which has unfortunately left too many borrowers liable for their former spouse’s student loan debt. U.S. Representative David Price (D-NC) introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“Survivors of domestic violence should never have to pay the debts of their abuser,” Rubio said. “This legislation would provide financial independence to those survivors who previously consolidated their student loan debt with their partner. I am proud to join Senators Warner and Cornyn in reintroducing this legislation, and I urge my Senate colleagues to support this bill to deliver relief to these individuals.”
“Victims of domestic violence who flee their dangerous living situations shouldn’t find themselves burdened with their partner’s debt when trying to move forward with their lives,” Warner said. “Unfortunately, that’s the reality for some Americans who are stuck with joint consolidation loans. This commonsense bill would help a vulnerable population who’s been unfairly held responsible for their former partner’s debt, by giving them the ability to regain their financial independence.”
“Victims of domestic abuse should never, ever be on the hook for an abusive partner’s debt,” Cornyn said. “I am proud to join this commonsense, bipartisan effort that will be key in helping vulnerable Texans, and others across the nation, regain their financial autonomy.”
Specifically, the Joint Consolidation Loan Separation Act would allow borrowers to submit an application to the Department of Education to split the joint consolidation loan into two separate federal direct loans. The joint consolidation loan remainder – the unpaid loan and accrued unpaid interest – would be split proportionally based on the percentages that each borrower originally brought into the loan. The two new federal direct loans would have the same interest rates as the joint consolidation loan.
Each borrower would also have the ability to transfer eligible payments made on the joint consolidation loan towards income-driven repayment programs and the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.
The Joint Consolidation Loan Separation Act is supported by a number of organizations, including the National Network to End Domestic Violence, National Consumer Law Center, North Carolina Coalition against Domestic Violence, and the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance.
“When survivors escape abuse, they should be able to start over without the debts of their abusers. We applaud this bill for creating a solution for those survivors who consolidated loans either in good faith or under duress and are now rebuilding their lives,” said Monica McLaughlin, Director of Public Policy at the National Network to End Domestic Violence.
“For far too long, many student loan borrowers have been stuck in joint consolidation loans, and this bill ensures that struggling borrowers, including survivors of domestic and economic abuse, who previously consolidated their student loan debts, have the opportunity to regain their financial footing. We applaud Senator Warner and Representative Price for their efforts. This bill would benefit many vulnerable student loan borrowers, and we are proud to support it,” said Persis Yu, Director, Student Borrower Assistance Project for the National Consumer Law Center.
“Survivors of domestic violence in North Carolina face many barriers when they decide to leave an abusive relationship; shouldering the burden of an abusive partner’s debt should not be one of them. We applaud Congressman Price for filing this bill and helping survivors get one step closer to regaining rebuild their lives and regain their financial independence,” said Kathleen Lockwood, Legal & Policy Director at the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
“The Action Alliance is pleased to support these efforts to provide victims of domestic and economic abuse with student loan relief. This bill will make a difference for people who need it, and I hope Congress will move swiftly to enact it,” said Jonathan Yglesias, Policy Director at the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance.
A copy of the one-pager can be found here. A copy of the bill text and be found here.