Senators Urge Reconciliation Package Include Expansion of Social Security Benefits for Students

By Hugh T. Ferguson, NASFAA Staff Reporter 

A pair of Democratic senators are urging their caucus to include a provision in the upcoming reconciliation package that would expand social security benefits for students. 

Specifically the proposed legislation would restore eligibility for children of social security survivors benefits and disability benefits recipients, as well as for eligible grandchildren of retired workers, up to age 26 if they are enrolled at least half-time in postsecondary education. Those benefits currently expire when a child turns 18.

“Children who receive Social Security benefits have faced unique and challenging hardships – like the loss of a parent,” said Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) who unveiled the measure on Tuesday. “This legislation would provide the support these students and their families need to remove these barriers and allow them to further their education. It’s crucial that we pass this bill to provide greater opportunity and access to college for over one million of these young Americans.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) — who chairs the Senate Budget Committee and joined in sponsoring the education benefit — will have a key role in shaping the drafting of the reconciliation package.

NASFAA has also endorsed the measure and has urged congress to bolster benefits for students pursuing higher education who will likely need more aid following the financial strain imposed by the pandemic.

“The Helping Students SOAR with Social Security Act acknowledges the need for education beyond high school in America’s changing economy, and ensures that the Social Security children’s benefits that helped them through high school will continue to support them through college,” said Justin Draeger, president of NASFAA. “Now, more than ever, in this time of heightened need as the country recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is critical that students don’t lose critical financial resources before they have the postsecondary skills they need to become self-supporting.”

Last week, Senate Democrats announced that they had come to an internal agreement on a $3.5 trillion budget resolution that would pave the way for enacting federal investments in programs more closely aligned with President Joe Biden’s agenda.

Those discussions are expected to continue throughout the bulk of the summer and will begin to take more substantive shape in the months ahead. 

Stay tuned to Today’s News for more developments concerning the reconciliation process.


Publication Date: 7/22/2021

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