Student Debt Relief Gains Bicameral Traction in Congress Amid COVID Outbreak

By Hugh T. Ferguson, NASFAA Staff Reporter

As the federal government continues its rollout of financial aid assistance to students suffering in the wake of COVID-19, a bipartisan pair of House members have committed to introducing legislation that would allow college seniors graduating in 2020 to defer payment on their student loans for up to three years.

The measure, introduced by Reps. Josh Harder (D-Calif.) and Brian Fitzpatick (R-Pa.) is a companion to a bill, S. 3556 (116), which was introduced by Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah.) last month.

"This bill would provide financial relief to our students who will soon be graduating, allowing them to focus on their personal health and safety as well as their families and communities," said Stanislaus State University President Ellen Junn.

According to Romney, his bill would also give the education secretary the authority to extend deferment eligibility to students graduating in 2021 and 2022.

While the federal government continues to sort through how to target aid efforts for student loan borrowers, the bicameral bipartisan measures offer a glimpse into congressional posturing for language that could be drafted in upcoming COVID-19 relief bills.

According to a press release the House members plan to formally unveil the measure with six other cosponsors. Currently Romney's proposal does not have any Senate cosponsors, but has been referred to the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee where he sits. 

Once the House bill is formally introduced, Harder could aim to have the measure referred to the Education and Labor Committee where he serves as a member.

Congress has offered a range of proposals to address student aid with some Democrats urging for debt relief of no less than $10,000 per student borrower. Currently student borrowers have only seen relief efforts implemented through actions made by the Department of Education (ED) and the CARES package, H.R. 748 (116), which, taken together suspended student loan payments, interest-free, through Sept. 30, 2020.


Publication Date: 4/13/2020

Mindi-Kim S | 4/13/2020 5:35:24 PM

With this bill, would interest also stop for the three year period? Otherwise, three years of accumulated interest can add up.

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