Stefanik’s bipartisan bill aims to provide student loan relief

Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) borrowers would receive zero interest rate benefits and payment suspensions under bipartisan legislation introduced on April 22 by U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) that seeks to help students during an uncertain time.

While the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provided student loan relief during the COVID-19 pandemic by authorizing the suspension of all monthly payments and interest for federally held student loans through Sept. 30, Rep. Stefanik says the next federal emergency relief package should go further.

“While the CARES Act lifted the weight of student loan payments from millions of Americans whose lives have been disrupted by the COVID-19 crisis, too many borrowers are still being left behind,” Rep. Stefanik said. “All students who have federal student loans should have their monthly payments suspended, no matter which type of loan they have or when they borrowed the money.”

The congresswoman sponsored the Equity in Student Loan Relief Act, H.R. 6597, with seven original cosponsors, including U.S. Reps. Lori Trahan (D-MA) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), to extend the temporary relief from student loan payments to the roughly 7.2 million borrowers who hold loans under the FFEL program.

FFEL borrowers currently are ineligible for CARES Act temporary relief because the loans are not held by the U.S. Department of Education, according to a bill summary provided by Rep. Stefanik’s office.

If enacted, H.R. 6597 would direct the Education Department to make the interest payments for FFEL borrowers; to enter into agreements with current FFEL loan holders to suspend student loan payments obligations; and to end all involuntary collections through Sept. 30, according to the bill summary.

“Our bipartisan bill is a major step towards achieving parity and will deliver relief to the over seven million borrowers under the old FFEL program” that was discontinued in 2010, said Rep. Stefanik. “I will continue to work on a bipartisan basis to develop additional legislation that extends these benefits to the Perkins borrowers who are also in need of immediate relief.”

The measure has been referred for consideration to the U.S. House Education and Labor Committee.