Legislation provides resources for student borrowers, standards for loan servicers
OLYMPIA — Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s Student Loan Bill of Rights legislation passed the Washington House of Representatives on Wednesday with bipartisan support.
House Bill 1440 establishes baseline standards for student loan servicers, in addition to creating a student loan ombuds to help resolve student complaints and to educate borrowers about student loans.
The Student Loan Bill of Rights cleared the House by a bipartisan vote of 71-27. It now heads to the Senate for consideration.
“My office has received hundreds of consumer complaints from student borrowers,” Ferguson said. “The resources this legislation provides will help thousands of Washingtonians who are overburdened with student debt. It also holds student loan servicers accountable to clear standards.”
Rep. Monica Stonier, D-Vancouver, sponsored the Student Loan Bill of Rights in the House.
“The basic servicer standards the Student Loan Bill of Rights creates are essential to protecting student borrowers,” said Rep. Stonier. “The bill will also protect students by ensuring that those servicers are held accountable if they fail to follow the rules.”
Sen. Marko Liias, D-Lynnwood, backed the companion bill Senate Bill 5210.
“As a 2003 grad who’s still repaying my student loans, I know what it’s like to wrestle with long-term debt. We need to give consumers basic protections against bad actors. Empowering our Attorney General's Office and creating a new student loans ombuds will ensure that borrowers and families have advocates and assistance when they need it," Sen. Liias said.
Connecticut and California, in addition to Washington, D.C., have enacted similar legislation.
The Student Loan Bill of Rights is one of two agency-request bills related to student borrowers that Ferguson has proposed this session. The Senate version of the Student Loan Transparency Act, SB 5022, passed the Senate unanimously on Wednesday. That legislation requires colleges and other institutions of higher education to provide notices to students detailing their loan balances and estimated monthly payments within 30 days of the disbursement of the loan.
Attorney General Ferguson is committed to standing up for students by going after predatory for-profit colleges and making sure loan servicing companies play by the rules. He also has cracked down on debt adjustment companies that charge fees to help borrowers consolidate their federal student loans and enroll in income-driven repayment plans — tasks that borrowers’ loan servicers can and should help them with for free. More information on the office’s student loan work is available here.
Anyone with questions about student loan servicers should read the Attorney General’s new student loan guide.
The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.
Peter Lavallee, Communications Director, (360) 586-0725; PeterL@atg.wa.gov