Taking a vital step to address the growing crisis of individual student loan indebtedness, the state Senate today passed legislation to expand consumer protections for Washington borrowers.
Known as the Student Loan Bill of Rights, Senate Bill 6029 would establish a range of provisions designed to protect Washingtonians from deceptive or predatory practices and require student loan servicers to obtain licenses to operate in the state.
“As one of the nearly 800,000 Washingtonians still paying off their college education, I know firsthand the balancing act of trying to afford housing, purchase daily necessities, and save money for the future while dealing with student debt,” said bill sponsor Sen. Marko Liias, D-Lynnwood. “We’re still learning what the full impact of this kind of debt will be on our state’s economy, but in the meantime, this legislation will ensure that we are putting people first and giving borrowers the information and tools they need.”
The bill would also establish a Student Education Loan Advocate to aid borrowers, compile data, provide information on student loans, and receive, review, and take action on complaints from borrowers.
“Student loan borrowers deserve to be treated fairly by their loan servicers, and this legislation will help ensure that they are,” said state Atty. Gen. Bob Ferguson. “I want to thank Sen. Liias for his leadership on this important issue.”
As of 2016, Washingtonians collectively owe more than $24 billion in student loans. They are part of the 44 million Americans who now owe more than $1.48 trillion in student loan debt, more than the total national credit card debt. Nationally, one in four student loan borrowers are behind in payments. As incomes have stagnated and many states have reduced investments in public higher education, the need for these loans has continued to rise. This rapidly growing debt jeopardizes livelihoods, relationships, and even retirement.
SB 6029 passed the Senate on a bipartisan vote of 35-13 and now moves to the House of Representatives for further consideration.