Yesterday the House of Representatives approved legislation to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, passing H.R. 4137 (The College Opportunity and Affordability Act) by 345-58. The bill included many, but not all, of the provisions we advocated for.
The adoption of Rep. Doggett's amendment for FAFSA simplification was a major accomplishment that required cooperation and communication with key committees and federal agencies, as well as many supporters and allies across the country.
Unfortunately, Rep. Davis's amendment, which would have allow high-risk, high-cost private loans to be discharged in bankruptcy like other consumer debt, was not adopted. It was an uphill battle just to get the amendment to a vote on the House floor, and although it was defeated (179-236), we got a lot of new attention and support that will be useful as we continue to work for fair treatment of student loans in bankruptcy.
Finally, there was another positive development that came together largely behind the scenes. We and our allies urged Rep. George Miller, Chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, to require that private loans be certified by schools. This is an important safeguard against unnecessary or ill-advised borrowing. Despite significant resistance, Chairman Miller included certification in a multi-part amendment that was adopted.
Thank you once again for your activism and enthusiasm. With your support, we will continue to fight for improvements to make college more affordable and accessible, and student loan repayment more fair and manageable.
(This message was sent to the Project on Student Debt mailing list on February 8, 2008.)