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Providing for COnsideration of H.R. 3136, Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project Act of 2013, and Providing for Consideration of H.R. 4984, Empowering Students Through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. PASCRELL. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in opposition to this rule as it does not make in order a bipartisan amendment to H.R. 4984, that I introduced with my friend Congressman RUNYAN.

Under the legislation, institutions are required to provide certain information to borrowers recommending they exhaust their federal loan opportunities before taking out private loans, that federal loans typically offer better terms, and that if they do decide to take out a private loan, an explanation regarding some of the borrower's rights. Our simple, right-to-know amendment would add to the list of information required to be made available an explanation of the differences between private loans and federal loans when it comes to the death or disability of the borrower. Borrowers would be notified that the borrower's estate or any cosigner of a private loan may be obligated to repay the full amount of the loan in the event of the death or disability of the borrower.

This amendment is based on bipartisan legislation I introduced with Mr. RUNYAN, legislation which passed by a voice vote in the House a few years ago. The Bryski family--who live in Mr. RUNYAN's district in South Jersey--fought for six years to discharge a private student loan they cosigned for their son Christopher, a college student who suffered a traumatic brain injury during his third year at Rutgers University and passed away after spending two years in a coma. Upon Christopher's death, his family was told by the bank that they would have to take over the loan and begin making payments on the $50,000 owed.

No family ever expects to lose a child. However, should the unexpected happen during college, it is a terrible fact today that families not only struggle with the loss of their loved one, but are also burdened as they find out they now have the obligation to pay the student's outstanding private loans. In this circumstance, federal loans are forgiven, but private lenders often still require families to pay back loans on behalf of their children. Understandably, the unexpected costs are difficult to absorb, and families are not mentally prepared for these various circumstances.

While no one can prepare for or anticipate the death of a loved one, especially a child entering college, requiring this information to be made available will ensure families can make the most appropriate financial decisions about how they finance higher education. This bill does not add a dime to the deficit, and we are not seeking to change lending rules or requiring banks to discharge debt. We simply want loan cosigners to understand what they could be responsible for.

It is a disappointment that the Majority would rather keep parents in the dark, and would rather allow private banks and some of their most heartless practices remain in the shadows than consider this simple amendment that would simply ensure that students and their families are warned about this possibility.

I urge opposition to the rule.


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