Student Loan Bill of Rights

I was very pleased to vote for the student loan bill of rights legislation. It will help a little on a big problem. It will force loan servicers to treat students fairly.

The bill is a response to the move by the Trump administration to reduce protections for student borrowers and may be challenged in court — the Trump administration appears to be opposed to state level efforts to protect borrowers.

Here is a link to a summary of the bill prepared by senate staff.

Below appears the text of the official senate press release on the bill.

BOSTON — The Massachusetts State Senate voted on Thursday to pass the “Student Loan Bill of Rights,” giving greater protections to student loan borrowers in disputes with companies servicing their loans.

The bill, S.2380, An Act establishing a student loan bill of rights, requires student loan servicers to be licensed companies with the state Division of Banks, and empowers state officials to investigate the servicers and take action against those that violate the state’s banking and consumer protection laws.

The bill also supports the ongoing work of Attorney General Maura Healey’s Student Loan Assistance Unit by establishing a Student Loan Ombudsman in the Attorney General’s Office, who will lead efforts respond to complaints from student loan borrowers and help them understand their rights.

“A college degree has never cost so much. As a result, students are taking on substantial debt, and they are being taken advantage of by servicers who use deceptive practices and wrongly steer them into costly repayment plans. While the Trump Administration, led by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, continues to side with large for-profit student loan servicers and strip away protections for student loan borrowers, we in Massachusetts are standing up to protect our residents from predatory student loan companies,” said Senator Eric P. Lesser (D-Longmeadow), lead sponsor of the bill in the Senate.

“As public officials, it is our duty to ensure fair and appropriate lending – especially in the student loan industry,” said Senate President Harriette L. Chandler (D-Worcester). “This legislation ensures that Massachusetts residents receive robust consumer protections and that the student loan industry is given the proper level of oversight. I want to thank Senator Lesser for his leadership on this issue.”

“Taking on abuses in the student loan industry has long been a priority of my office. That’s why, in 2015, we created a Student Loan Assistance Unit to help borrowers with their student loans,” said Attorney General Maura Healey. “I thank Senate President Chandler, Senator Lesser and the Senate for providing new resources and tools to protect Massachusetts students and families.”

Under the bill, student loan servicers would have to apply for licenses from the state, which the Commissioner of Banks could revoke if the servicer is engaged in abusive practices such as overcharging students or steering them into costlier repayment plans to make higher profits.

Student loan servicers that break state licensing requirements or take advantage of students could be fined and forced to repay student borrowers under the bill.

The bill now goes to the State House of Representatives, where Representative Natalie Higgins (D-Leominster) is the lead sponsor of the House companion bill.

Published by Will Brownsberger

Will Brownsberger is State Senator from the Second Suffolk and Middlesex District.

6 replies on “Student Loan Bill of Rights”

  1. Will,

    I’m fine with this sort of regulation on student loans, but it’s not getting to the root cause of the issue.

    My daughter is getting to the age that we need to start thinking about the college application process. We’ve done everything right with 529s, saving, etc. We also have friends with older children who juniors or seniors in high school. So we get to hear all the stories, which brings me to my point.

    When is the state going to do something about the reason those loans are necessary? As two examples, Northeastern is currently at $69K/year and WPI is at $72K. These schools are also not giving out amounts of assistance that put a real dent in those standard prices.

    Your party often tries to address healthcare costs and housing costs. What are you doing about the actual cost of higher education? Loans aren’t a solution here. Is $280K for a bachelor’s degree reasonable?

    1. Fair point.

      I’ve been an advocate for technology change in education and also for lower cost vocational education, but I am not leading on those issues at the moment.

      Much more to do — I agree that the costs are just too high!

  2. What if you were a lifelong MASS resident while accumulating student loan debt and for a year or two later but now live out of state. Would this law give them protection ? Thanks

  3. Change happens slowly, and clearly this is a step in the right direction! I pray the bill passes in the House of Rep’s!

Comments are closed.