Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, today said the Senate is debating key higher education reforms that are critical to expand access to college, protect students from bad actors in the student loan industry and provide students with clear information they need to understand and manage their debts.
"After over three years of negotiations, Republicans and Democrats have reached agreement on a number of key measures to help American students," Enzi said. "S. 1642 will restore students’ trust in student loan programs by holding lenders and schools to a code of conduct. It will also ensure that students and parents have the information they need about the costs of college and the financial impact of their loans so they can make sound decisions about their futures."
The Senate began debate on the "Higher Education Amendments of 2007," S. 1642, today. Last week, the Senate passed by a 78-18 vote the Higher Education Access Act of 2007, S. 1762, which Enzi said was the first step toward making college more affordable. The HELP Committee approved S. 1762 and S. 1642 together in June, and Enzi has since been adamant that the full Senate take up the two bills together. On July 12, he wrote a letter, signed by 9 HELP Committee Republicans, urging the Majority Leader to bring up both bills in tandem.
"I am very pleased the Majority Leader heeded our calls to bring up both of these important, bipartisan bills. I did not want to squander yet another opportunity to make federal higher education programs more efficient as well as more effective. Our challenge is not only to improve access to higher education but to ensure that the quality of our system of higher education is not compromised," said Enzi.
Enzi said key provisions of S. 1642 include:Providing consumer friendly, easy to access and understand, detailed information about college tuition and fees; Calling for the Department of Education and IRS to coordinate and automate the FAFSA process;
Requiring the Department of Education to establish protocols for limiting and restoring access to the National Student Loan Data System, a database that contains personal financial information about student borrowers and their families and is used by students, schools, lenders, and guarantee agencies;
Requiring colleges to establish Codes of Conduct to prohibit their financial aid employees from receiving anything of value in exchange for advantages sought by lenders; and,
Expanding prohibitions on guaranty agencies and lenders that restrict the offering of any premiums, payments, prizes, and tuition payments.