Last night the House passed H.R. 1635, the Empowering Students Through Financial Counseling Act, which included a provision by Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (MO-04) that encourages schools to offer in-person counseling to students when they take out federal loans.
The Empowering Students Through Financial Counseling Act ensures borrowers of a federal student loan receive interactive counseling and consent anew each year before they accept their loan. Currently, recipients of federal student loans must only receive one-time entrance counseling, and it can occur after they have already signed up for a loan – leaving them potentially unaware of their responsibility. Additionally, this bill would require loan recipients to receive comprehensive information on the terms, conditions, and responsibilities of a loan plus general information on a typical student budget, the right to request an annual credit report, average income and employment data, and anticipated monthly payments under available repayment plans.
“The typical American student graduates with about $22,000 in debt, and default rates are alarmingly high,” Hartzler, a former school teacher for 11 years, said. “What’s worse is that many students report not even remembering their student loan counseling. We need to change that.”
Hartzler authored a provision in the bill that would encourage schools to conduct student loan counseling in person. “Face-to-face counseling can increase students’ awareness of the financial obligations they are accumulating. Students should know what they’re getting into,” Hartzler added.
Congresswoman Hartzler’s amendment aims to improve the quality of student loan counseling and therefore decrease the chance of a student defaulting later on.
Hartzler noted that the House passed her provision and the larger bill with bipartisan support. “The student loan crisis should not be a partisan issue,” Hartzler said. “We must work together to address this looming economic disaster and make our students aware of the financial obligations they are incurring. I believe personalized, face-to-face counseling can be an effective tool to address this crisis.”
This bill has now been referred to the Senate where it awaits further consideration.