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WATCH: Chairman Scott Leads House Debate of Bill Helping Domestic Violence Survivors Escape Abusers’ Debts

09.20.22

WASHINGTON – Education and Labor Committee Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03) delivered the following remarks during today’s floor debate on the Joint Consolidation Loan Separation Act. 

WATCH: Chairman Scott Leads House Debate of Bill Helping Domestic Violence Survivors Escape Abusers' Debts

View Chairman Scott’s floor remarks on YouTube.

“I’m pleased to rise in support of the bipartisan, bicameral Joint Consolidation Loan Separation Act, led in the Senate by my colleague from Virginia, Senator Mark Warner, and led in the House by the gentleman from North Carolina, Congressman David Price.

“Student loans should provide a pathway to opportunity—not saddle borrowers with a lifetime of burdensome debt, especially if the loans do not even belong to them.

“Regrettably, many borrowers’ financial well-being has been made worse by student loans jointly held by their spouse or former spouse.

“The Joint Consolidation Loan Separation Act would provide much-needed relief for individuals who previously consolidated their student loans with their spouse.  Although Congress eliminated the joint consolidation loan program in 2006, it did not provide a way for borrowers to sever existing loans, even in the event of domestic violence, economic abuse, or unresponsiveness from a former partner after divorce. 

“As a result, according to the most recent data from the Department of Education, there are at least 13,500 borrowers with federally held joint consolidation loans.  

“The Joint Consolidation Loan Separation Act would allow borrowers to submit an application to the Department of Education to split the joint consolidation loan into two separate federal direct loans.  The two new federal direct loans would be split proportionally based on the original unpaid principal and have the same interest rates as the joint consolidation loan—ensuring borrowers are not saddled with a higher interest rate.  

“Importantly, the bill provides a pathway for an individual to apply to separate a debt loan from a former spouse or current spouse, including in the event of an absentee or unresponsive spouse, an act of domestic violence, or economic abuse.

“Mr. Speaker, we can all agree that no borrower should be forced to pay debt that isn’t theirs, especially the debt of an abusive former spouse.”

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