July 07, 2021

Cortez Masto Urges Education Department to Expand Debt Relief for Student Loan Borrowers

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) joined U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.), and 21 colleagues in urging Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona to expand student debt relief as soon as possible.

In a letter to Secretary Cardona, Cortez Masto and her colleagues called for polices that improve and expand our existing student loan repayment and forgiveness programs to ensure borrowers can access the relief they are owed. Specifically, the Senators urged Secretary Cardona to make key improvements in income-driven repayment (IDR) and Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), as well as ensure that borrowers who have been cheated and defrauded, who attended a school that has closed, or who have total and permanent disabilities are able to access the debt forgiveness that they are owed.

“We write in support of the U.S. Department of Education’s regulatory agenda to provide relief to federal student loan borrowers. As part of the upcoming negotiated rulemaking process, we encourage the Department to pursue policies that reduce disparities in the burden of student debt, simplify loan repayment, close donut holes in forgiveness programs, and improve the overall confidence of borrowers in the federal student loan system,” wrote the members.

The Senators stressed that the Administration must ensure the rulemaking committee panel reflects borrowers’ voices and interests, and encouraged the Department to consider opportunities to implement the rules early to  provide relief as quickly as possible.

“The rules governing student loan borrower repayment and forgiveness programs will help to provide additional relief to struggling borrowers and close gaps in how these programs currently operate. These regulatory enhancements will also help build borrowers’ confidence in the federal student loan program’s efforts to put higher education within reach for more students, rather than creating complex or burdensome requirements that stop students from accessing or pursuing educational opportunities,” wrote the members.

Addressing the student debt crisis and ensuring all students have access to affordable education has been a priority for Cortez Masto in the Senate. She has introduced bipartisan legislation with Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.) to expand access to lending options for students, teamed up with Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) to co-lead legislation to ease students’ loan debt, and co-sponsored a bill to ensure affordable, simple income-based repayment plans federal student loan borrowers. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Senator Cortez Masto pause student loan payments and voted to overturn the Department of Education’s unfair rule that penalized students for the actions of predatory for-profit colleges and made it harder for them to access loan forgiveness.

In addition to Senators Cortez Masto and Murray, the letter was signed by Senators Schumer (D-N.Y.), Brown (D-Ohio), Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Durbin (D-Ill.), Warren (D-Mass.), Reed (D-R.I.), Kaine (D-Va.), Wyden (D-Ore.), Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Padilla (D-Calif.), Hirono (D-Hawaii), Hassan (D-N.H.), Warnock (D-Ga.), Markey (D-Mass.), Smith (D-Minn.), Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Van Hollen (D-Md.), Menendez (D-N.J.), Booker (D-N.J.), and Cardin (D-Md.).

The full letter is HERE.