Today, Congressman Tim Ryan (OH-13) voted for the bipartisan Joint Consolidation Loan Separation Act, which will now head to the President's desk to be signed into law.
The bipartisan Joint Consolidation Loan Separation Act would allow both borrowers, who combined their loans as a married couple, to submit a joint application to the U.S. Department of Education to split their joint consolidation loan into two separate federal direct loans. It would also allow one borrower to submit a separate application if they are experiencing domestic or economic abuse or are unable to reasonably reach the other borrower.
"When survivors escape an abusive marriage, they should be able to start over without being forced to carry their spouse's debts," said Congressman Ryan. "I'm proud to help pass this important legislation to help survivors of domestic violence rebuild their lives and regain their financial freedom."
From January 1, 1993 until June 30, 2006, married couples were able to combine their student loan debt into joint consolidation loans. Both borrowers agreed at the time to be jointly liable for repayment, which would prove problematic if they wanted to separate the loans. Congress eliminated the joint consolidation loan program effective July 1, 2006, but did not provide a means of severing existing joint loans, even in the event of domestic violence, economic abuse, or an unresponsive partner. As a result, there are borrowers nationwide who remain liable for this consolidated debt without legal options to separate them.
This bill has the support of the National Network to End Domestic Violence, National Consumer Law Center, American Federation of Teachers, North Carolina Coalition against Domestic Violence, and the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance. This bill was included in the Education and Labor Committee's Higher Education Act (HEA) Reauthorization during the last two Congresses.