WASHINGTON – Today, Rep. Madeleine Dean (PA-04) discussed the progress of two of her bills to make the student loan system fairer and more equitable.

Private Loan Disability Discharge Act (H.R. 4545)

Today, the House Financial Services Committee – on which Rep. Dean sits – voted to approve her Private Loan Disability Discharge Act by a vote of 32-25. Under current law, private lenders are not required to discharge student loans for borrowers or their cosigners if the borrower becomes totally and permanently disabled – unlike federal student loans which require this discharge. The Private Loan Disability Discharge Act would require private student lenders to discharge the loan balance for both the borrower and co-signer if the borrower becomes totally and permanently disabled.

“A constituent brought this issue to our attention,” said Rep. Dean. “Her daughter had become totally disabled, and she was left with the remaining balance of her private student loans as the cosigner. The lending company said it was their policy to forgive the debt for the borrower, but not for the cosigner on the original agreement. That felt wrong – so we wrote H.R. 4545 to fix the issue. Currently there is no industry standard backed by statute to ensure student loan borrowers are protected in the case of these terrible circumstances. Today, I’m pleased to see the bill advance out of the House Financial Services Committee, and I will continue working toward a vote on the House floor.”

H.R. 4545 is endorsed by the National Disability Rights Network, The National Council on Independent Living, the U.S. International Council on Disabilities, the National Consumer Law Center (on behalf of its low-income clients), Americans for Financial Reform, the Center for Responsible Lending, and The Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS).

Ensuring Fair Legal Recourse for Private Student Loan Borrowers Act (H.R. 4544)

Language from Rep. Dean’s Ensuring Fair Legal Recourse for Private Student Loan Borrowers Act was also included in legislation passed out of the House Financial Services Committee. The Student Borrower Protections Act, sponsored by Rep. Alma Adams (NC-12), was approved by a vote of 32-26; it sets minimum standards on student loan services and student loan transactions. The language included from Rep. Dean’s legislation ensures that private lenders cannot force borrowers to waive their legal rights by signing loan agreements, either by agreeing in advance to arbitration, or by agreeing not to participate in a joint or class action lawsuit.

“Students shouldn’t have to sign away basic legal protections in order to borrow money and claim their education,” said Rep. Dean.

Rep. Madeleine Dean is a mother, grandmother, attorney, professor, former four-term member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, and U.S. Representative for the Fourth District of Pennsylvania.