Attorney General Tong Calls on U.S. Secretary of Education to Further Address Student Loan Crisis(Hartford, CT) —Attorney General William Tong today joined a coalition of 23 attorneys general, led by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro and Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser, in issuing a letter to the U.S. Secretary of Education Dr. Miguel Cardona urging additional reforms to ease the process of paying student loans and to protect student loan borrowers from paying back debt to for-profit and defunct colleges.
“Student loan debt is a significant obstacle for many people’s financial security and well-being, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic and current financial crisis. As we continue to navigate widespread unemployment and the worst financial crisis in recent years, we are urging Secretary Cardona to ease the burden on student loan borrowers by implementing policies that will protect borrowers and make it easier for them to pay back debt,” Attorney General Tong said. “I thank Secretary Cardona for the steps he’s already taken to help Connecticut families including delivering relief for federal student loan borrowers defrauded by private, for-profit colleges and hope he can continue building on that positive momentum.”
In their letter, the attorneys general urged Secretary Cardona to consider several policy actions that would help student loan borrowers, including:
• Continuing the policy of suspending student loan payments and waiving interest for as long as necessary to support struggling borrowers;
• Continuing the policy of suspending of involuntary collections activities, as well as authorizing suspended payments to count towards both Public Service Loan Forgiveness and income-driven repayment (IDR) plan forgiveness;
• Enacting reforms so that student loan borrowers are able to access and remain in IDR plans to which they are entitled, enabling borrowers to have more affordable monthly payments, to avoid the serious consequences of default, and to secure loan forgiveness when appropriate; and
• Enforcing the gainful employment requirement of the Higher Education Act, which would shield borrowers from for-profit programs that fail to prepare students for careers.
The letter applauded the Department’s March 30 actions to expand pandemic protections to privately-owned loans. The attorneys general also welcomed President Biden’s commitment to consider using executive authority to cancel student debt, saying “...we strongly urge that any debt cancellation should apply to all federal loans – including Federal Family Education Loans and Perkins loans that are not owned by the Department... For many with student debt, the current system is highly complex and difficult to manage. This is a needless source of great anxiety and is plainly unfair. We can and must do better.”
Joining Attorneys General Tong, Shapiro and Weiser are the attorneys general of California, District of Columbia, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Minnesota, North Carolina, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Oregon, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.