STATEMENT FROM THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF STATE COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES ON STUDENT AID BILL OF RIGHTS

We applaud the Administration’s attention to the actual operations of the federal student loan programs and welcome the promised improvements to loan servicing and customer service in Department of Education contracts. For too long, federal loan servicers and debt collectors have engaged in questionable, unethical, and outright illegal tactics in their interactions with borrowers. Today’s announcement builds on the Department of Education’s recent termination of several contracts, and will, we hope, signal a sustained effort to improve service quality for all borrowers, including those struggling to repay predatory private-label loans.

We caution that making loans more affordable and their repayment less burdensome are no substitute for upfront policies to protect borrowers from crushing debt. First, it is critical for the Department to do a better job stopping predatory operations from defrauding students. Millions of borrowers are struggling to repay their loans because they were saddled with debt to pay for worthless programs. These defrauded borrowers need debt relief, not better repayment options. Second, unless the Administration and Congress act urgently to constructively address escalating college costs, particularly in the public sector where the vast majority of families access higher education, debt burden will inevitably escalate and income-based repayment turns into another path of least resistance for tuition hikes.

###

The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) is a Washington, D.C.-based higher education association of more
than 400 public colleges, universities, and systems whose members share a learning- and teaching-centered culture, a historic commitment to underserved student populations, and a dedication to research and creativity that advances their regions’ economic progress and cultural development.