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Press Press Releases Advocates Applaud House Passage of S. 1098 to Provide Student Loan Borrowers Relief from Joint Consolidation

Advocates Applaud House Passage of S. 1098 to Provide Student Loan Borrowers Relief from Joint Consolidation

Congressional Activity Comes as Borrowers Organized and Demanded Action After Joint Consolidation Loans have Kept Them From Accessing Vital Student Loan Relief; Administration Must Act Fast to Implement

September 21, 2022 | WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the House of Representatives passed S. 1098, the Joint Consolidation Loan Separation Act 232-193 with bipartisan support, granting student loan borrowers the chance to split their Joint Consolidation Loans (also known as Spousal Consolidation Loans) into two separate federal Direct Loans.

Borrowers with Spousal Consolidation Loans, especially those held by Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program lenders, have been ineligible for many of the historic actions the Biden Administration has taken to protect student loan borrowers. Separating these loans will finally allow these borrowers to access critical student loan relief programs. 

“For far too long, these Spousal Consolidation Loans have locked spouses together financially even in the case of domestic abuse or divorce,” said SBPC deputy executive director, Persis Yu. “Passage of the Joint Consolidation Loan Separation Act brings an end to the decades-long saga and provides a light at the end of the tunnel for struggling borrowers—including survivors of domestic and economic abuse—who have been trapped by these joint loans. We urge the President to sign this bill into law immediately and stand ready to work with the Administration to quickly implement this bill to ensure that these borrowers can finally get their long-awaited relief.”

Background

Until June 2006, married federal student loan borrowers could consolidate their loans into a single Spousal Consolidation Loan. These loans included terms that prevented them from being able to be separated, even in the case of divorce.

Congress eliminated the program in 2006 but did not provide borrowers a means of severing existing loans, even in the event of domestic violence, economic abuse, or an unresponsive partner. As a result, borrowers in these circumstances remain liable for this consolidated debt without legal options for relief.

FFEL Spousal Consolidation Loans are not eligible for consolidation into the Direct Loan program. As a result, they are not eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness, the more generous Income-Driven Repayment plans, and President Biden’s historic debt relief plan.

In June 2022, the Senate passed the same bill with bipartisan support. Now that the bill has passed both chambers, it will be sent to President Biden for signing.

Further Reading

For years, impacted borrowers have organized and spoken out on the barriers they have faced due to their Spousal Consolidation Loans. SpousalConsolidation.DoUsPart!, is a grassroots organization that centers the needs and voices of spousal consolidation borrowers.

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About Student Borrower Protection Center

The Student Borrower Protection Center (SBPC) is a nonprofit organization focused on alleviating the burden of student debt for millions of Americans. The SBPC engages in advocacy, policymaking, and litigation strategy to rein in industry abuses, protect borrowers’ rights, and advance economic opportunity for the next generation of students.

Learn more at protectborrowers.org or follow SBPC on Twitter @theSBPC.

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