Two top-ranking Republican lawmakers are pressing the Department of Education (ED) for more details surrounding its planned resumption of student loan repayments this October, as well as the department’s work to provide clear and proper guidance to borrowers.
Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP), and Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), chair of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, on Wednesday sent a letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) with multiple questions concerning ED’s readiness for, and implementation of, the return to repayment on federal student loans.
According to the lawmakers, ED provided congressional leaders with a briefing on the status of borrowers’ return to repayment on September 19, but Cassidy and Foxx said the meeting left many questions unanswered. They also argued that the lack of clarity “demonstrates the low priority [the administration] places on ensuring a smooth transition back to repayment.”
“Given the multiple prior deadlines for the return to repayment and the repeated extensions of the payment pause, it is highly likely there will be confusion among borrowers and many who may not take this repayment deadline seriously,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter to GAO. “The administration’s repeated mixed messages raise questions about the incentives borrowers have to avoid repayment of their loans and about the costs of these actions to taxpayers.”
Cassidy and Foxx also accuse the administration of violating the debt ceiling law since there is a temporary 12-month “on-ramp” to repayment, where interest would still accrue on student loan balances, but a borrower would not enter into delinquency or default for missing payments.
The lawmakers also expressed concern that borrowers may not know that interest is accruing on those unpaid loans.
Cassidy and Foxx requested GAO begin its review of ED’s guidance and instructions for resuming its collection of student loans as soon as possible.
Publication Date: 9/22/2023