By WASHINGTON (CBS19 NEWS)
WASHINGTON (CBS19 NEWS) — A bill to keep domestic violence survivors from being responsible for a former spouse’s student loan debt has been reintroduced in Congress.
Senator Mark Warner and Representative David Price reintroduced the bill on Tuesday to provide relief for people who had previously consolidated their student loan debt with their spouse.
According to a release, the joint consolidation program was eliminated in 2006, but Congress did not provide a way for borrowers to sever existing loans, even when there was domestic violence, economic abuse or unresponsiveness from a former partner.
This bill, called the Joint Consolidation Loan Separation Act, would aim to fix this issue.
“Victims of domestic violence who flee their dangerous living situations shouldn’t find themselves burdened with their partner’s debt when trying to move forward with their lives. Unfortunately, that’s the reality for some Americans who are stuck with joint consolidation loans,” said Warner. “This commonsense bill would help a vulnerable population who’s been unfairly held responsible for their former partner’s debt, by giving them the ability regain their financial independence.”
“Survivors of domestic violence should never have to pay the debts of their abuser,” said Senator Marco Rubio, who co-sponsored the bill. “This legislation would provide financial independence to those survivors who previously consolidated their student loan debt with their partner.”
The release says this legislation would let borrowers submit an application to the U.S. Department of Education to split the joint consolidation loan into two separate federal direct loans.
The remainder of the loan, including the unpaid loan and any accrued unpaid interest, would be split proportionally based on the percentages that each borrower originally brought into the loan.
Additionally, the two new federal direct loans would have the same interest rate as the consolidated one.
The release says each borrower would also have the ability to transfer eligible payments that were made on the consolidated loan toward an income-driven repayment program and the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.