Iowa senators team to protect students

Getting a college education can be important to success in life. Unfortunately, doing so has become an increasingly expensive undertaking. One consequence is that a many college graduates enter the job market owing a great deal of money.

Iowa U.S. Sens. Charles Grassley and Joni Ernst, both of whom are Republicans, have partnered with U.S. Sen. Al Franken, a Democrat from Minnesota, to introduce federal legislation to increase the amount of information young folks receive about federal student loans. This bipartisan effort is designed to help them better understand these financial obligations before incurring them.

“A college education generally remains a good investment,” Grassley said, in a statement announcing the legislation. “But when students’ academic dreams become a nightmare upon graduation because they borrowed more from the federal government than they can afford to repay with the degree they earned, they understandably feel something is wrong. The federal government, as the lender, has a responsibility to at least ensure that students know what they’re getting themselves into before they get in over their heads. This legislation will do that.”

Ernst echoed that sentiment and further explained the purpose of the proposed law.

“The bipartisan Know Before You Owe Federal Student Loan Act provides the much needed counseling for students prior to borrowing to ensure they have the most comprehensive information on student loans before making a financial commitment. With the federal government sharing roughly 90 percent of the student loan market, we must make sure students have access to the right tools and resources to succeed.”

According to Grassley, the proposed law strengthens the current loan counseling requirements for institutions of higher education that are contained in the Higher Education Act.

An important proposed requirement is sharing with the student a projection of their loan debt-to-income ratio upon graduation based on the starting wages for that student’s academic program and an estimate of the total student loan debt the student will likely take out to complete that program. Also being proposed are enhanced explanations of a student’s options other than borrowing.

The Iowa senators and their colleague from Minnesota, were inspired to introduce this legislation because of information dissemination programs in Iowa that go beyond what is often available elsewhere.

The Times-Republican applauds the three senators for this bipartisan collaboration to address the growing student debt crisis. Making sure that students understand all the implications of borrowing before they decide to take out large loans is an important goal.