Press Release/Statement | July 27, 2020

Statement on HEALS Act

Author: Statement of James Kvaal

“For college students and student loan borrowers, the HEALS Act proposed by Senator McConnell today is too little, too late. In the face of a surging pandemic, it cuts off much-needed relief for millions of student loan borrowers and fails to invest enough in public colleges to prevent dire consequences for students.

“Public colleges and universities never recovered from the Great Recession, and now they face additional expenses and huge falls in revenue from tuition and state aid. While the bill provides nearly $30 billion in much-needed direct higher education relief, more funding is needed to prevent a run-up in tuition and student debt.

“It’s deeply disappointing that the Republican bill fails to include one penny for Pell Grants. Doubling Pell Grants would help students stay enrolled in college, boosting the economy now and investing in long-term economic growth. To make no movement toward that crucial goal as student need skyrockets will leave students behind and potentially create a drag on educational attainment in the United States for years to come.

“With economic conditions continuing to deteriorate, Congress should extend and expand the pause on student loan payments and interest. The relief has already saved 18 million borrowers more than $45 billion, but it fails to reach all federal student loans and expires on September 30. Congress should also immediately discharge federal student loans for students who are covered by government findings of wrongdoing.

“While the Senate Republicans’ proposal to simplify student loan repayment should be considered within the context of broader reforms to college affordability, it does nothing to help colleges, students, and borrowers now. Millions of borrowers are struggling with large debts in the middle of a historic pandemic and recession. It is simply not feasible to establish a new repayment plan and require them all to enroll within two months.

“Finally, any recovery legislation must include strong accountability measures to address the increased risks — including low-quality programs and predatory recruitment — that students and taxpayers face as a result of the pandemic. The bill should not provide additional subsidizes to for-profit colleges beyond emergency financial support paid directly to their students.”


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