U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Congressmen Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-8) and Jon Runyan (R-NJ-3) reintroduced the "Christopher Bryski Student Loan Protection Act," legislation that would bring greater transparency to the student loan process for students, their parents, and other loan co-signers.
The bill is named after Christopher Bryski, a New Jersey college student who suffered a traumatic brain injury during his third year at Rutgers and passed away after spending two years in a coma. Christopher's family struggled to determine how they were going to pay back his loans and make legal, financial, and medical decisions on his behalf.
"Students and their families make huge financial commitments as they seek higher education. This billwould ensure that lenders provide full disclosure to young adults and their families who sign onto loans that will often take decades to pay off," Senator Lautenberg said. "While the Bryski family struggled to deal with the loss of their son, they were burdened by additional hardships brought on by creditors and lenders. They have shared their story so that other families have the guidance they need to make legal and financial decisions when tragedy strikes."
"It often takes an entire family to create the opportunity for a student to go to college. Therefore, it is only right that parents and anyone else who takes on financial obligations to educate a student completely understands the terms they are entering," said Rep. Pascrell, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee. "Christopher Bryski's legacy reminds us that life can be unpredictable. This legislation bearing his name is intended to help give families one advantage to help guard against the unexpected. I look forward to working with Congressman Runyan in getting this important bill passed in the House as soon as possible."
"In our current economy more and more students are taking out loans from private lenders to obtain higher education degrees," said Rep. Runyan. "When Christopher Bryski, a resident of New Jersey's 3rd district, lost his life, his family took responsibility for paying off Christopher's student loans and has taken the lead on educating parents and students about all of the financial aspects of the student loan process. I am pleased to be working with Mr. Pascrell in the House on this important piece of legislation that seeks to increase awareness of financial obligations when these contracts are signed."
"We hope Christopher's Law will help families throughout the country by holding lending institutions accountable for their actions. Christopher's Law makes it mandatory for lending institutions to inform families," said Ryan Bryski, Christopher's brother, on behalf of the Bryski Family. "It's only fair that families know up front what their obligations are, and what to expect during catastrophic situations. This kind of information should not be buried in the fine print. We do not want other families to endure the pain and confusion we had to. We are extremely grateful for the constant hard work and support of Senator Lautenberg, Congressman Pascrell and Congressman Runyan and their staffs."
The "Christopher Bryski Student Loan Protection Act" would ensure that parents and other co-signers are fully informed of their obligations to repay student loans, including in the event of the student's death. While federal loans are typically discharged upon a borrower's death, private loans often are not. The bill would require all private education lenders to clearly define the obligations of the cosigner. It would also require colleges to provide information about loan discharge rules to students and cosigners of a loan.
On June 17, 2004, 23-year-old Christopher Bryski of Marlton was fatally injured in a recreational accident. He spent two years in a vegetative state before passing away in 2006. During that time, his family struggled to make financial decisions on his behalf, and was surprised to learn of their financial obligations. Upon his death, the U.S. Department of Education discharged Christopher's student loans. However, Christopher's father remained liable for the private student loans and continues to make payments on his behalf. The Bryski family has advocated for improved transparency during the student loan process.