[Pages H4607-H4611]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




     EMPOWERING STUDENTS THROUGH ENHANCED FINANCIAL COUNSELING ACT

  Mr. GUTHRIE. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the 
bill (H.R. 3179) to amend the loan counseling requirements under the 
Higher Education Act of 1965, and for other purposes, as amended.
  The Clerk read the title of the bill.
  The text of the bill is as follows:

                               H.R. 3179

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,

     SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

       This Act may be cited as the ``Empowering Students Through 
     Enhanced Financial Counseling Act''.

     SEC. 2. ANNUAL COUNSELING.

       Section 485(l) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 
     U.S.C. 1092(l)) is amended to read as follows:
       ``(l) Annual Financial Aid Counseling.--
       ``(1) Annual disclosure required.--

[[Page H4608]]

       ``(A) In general.--Each eligible institution shall ensure 
     that each individual who receives a Federal Pell Grant or a 
     loan made under part D (other than a Federal Direct 
     Consolidation Loan) receives comprehensive information on the 
     terms and conditions of such Federal Pell Grant or loan and 
     the responsibilities the individual has with respect to such 
     Federal Pell Grant or loan. Such information shall be 
     provided, for each award year for which the individual 
     receives such Federal Pell Grant or loan, in a simple and 
     understandable manner--
       ``(i) during a counseling session conducted in person;
       ``(ii) online, with the individual acknowledging receipt of 
     the information; or
       ``(iii) through the use of the online counseling tool 
     described in subsection (n)(1)(B).
       ``(B) Use of interactive programs.--In the case of 
     institutions not using the online counseling tool described 
     in subsection (n)(1)(B), the Secretary shall require such 
     institutions to carry out the requirements of subparagraph 
     (A) through the use of interactive programs, during an annual 
     counseling session that is in-person or online, that test the 
     individual's understanding of the terms and conditions of the 
     Federal Pell Grant or loan awarded to the individual, using 
     simple and understandable language and clear formatting.
       ``(2) All individuals.--The information to be provided 
     under paragraph (1)(A) to each individual receiving 
     counseling under this subsection shall include the following:
       ``(A) An explanation of how the individual may budget for 
     typical educational expenses and a sample budget based on the 
     cost of attendance for the institution.
       ``(B) An explanation that an individual has a right to 
     annually request a disclosure of information collected by a 
     consumer reporting agency pursuant to section 612(a) of the 
     Fair Credit Reporting Act (15 U.S.C. 1681j(a)).
       ``(C) Based on the most recent data available from the 
     American Community Survey available from the Department of 
     Commerce, the estimated average income and percentage of 
     employment in the State of domicile of the individual for 
     individuals with--
       ``(i) a high school diploma or equivalent;
       ``(ii) some post-secondary education without completion of 
     a degree or certificate; and
       ``(iii) a bachelor's degree.
       ``(D) An introduction to the financial management resources 
     provided by the Financial Literacy and Education Commission.
       ``(3) Students receiving federal pell grants.--The 
     information to be provided under paragraph (1)(A) to each 
     student receiving a Federal Pell Grant shall include the 
     following:
       ``(A) An explanation of the terms and conditions of the 
     Federal Pell Grant.
       ``(B) An explanation of approved educational expenses for 
     which the student may use the Federal Pell Grant.
       ``(C) An explanation of why the student may have to repay 
     the Federal Pell Grant.
       ``(D) An explanation of the maximum number of semesters or 
     equivalent for which the student may be eligible to receive a 
     Federal Pell Grant, and a statement of the amount of time 
     remaining for which the student may be eligible to receive a 
     Federal Pell Grant.
       ``(E) An explanation that if the student transfers to 
     another institution not all of the student's courses may be 
     acceptable in transfer toward meeting specific degree or 
     program requirements at such institution, but the amount of 
     time remaining for which a student may be eligible to receive 
     a Federal Pell Grant, as provided under subparagraph (D), 
     will not change.
       ``(F) An explanation of how the student may seek additional 
     financial assistance from the institution's financial aid 
     office due to a change in the student's financial 
     circumstances, and the contact information for such office.
       ``(4) Borrowers receiving loans made under part d (other 
     than parent plus loans).--The information to be provided 
     under paragraph (1)(A) to a borrower of a loan made under 
     part D (other than a Federal Direct PLUS Loan made on behalf 
     of a dependent student) shall include the following:
       ``(A) To the extent practicable, the effect of accepting 
     the loan to be disbursed on the eligibility of the borrower 
     for other forms of student financial assistance.
       ``(B) An explanation of the use of the master promissory 
     note.
       ``(C) An explanation that the borrower is not required to 
     accept the full amount of the loan offered to the borrower.
       ``(D) An explanation that the borrower should consider 
     accepting any grant, scholarship, or State or Federal work-
     study jobs for which the borrower is eligible prior to 
     accepting Federal student loans.
       ``(E) A recommendation to the borrower to exhaust the 
     borrower's Federal student loan options prior to taking out 
     private education loans, an explanation that Federal student 
     loans typically offer better terms and conditions than 
     private education loans, an explanation of treatment of loans 
     made under part D and private education loans in bankruptcy, 
     and an explanation that if a borrower decides to take out a 
     private education loan--
       ``(i) the borrower has the ability to select a private 
     educational lender of the borrower's choice;
       ``(ii) the proposed private education loan may impact the 
     borrower's potential eligibility for other financial 
     assistance, including Federal financial assistance under this 
     title; and
       ``(iii) the borrower has a right--

       ``(I) to accept the terms of the private education loan 
     within 30 calendar days following the date on which the 
     application for such loan is approved and the borrower 
     receives the required disclosure documents, pursuant to 
     section 128(e) of the Truth in Lending Act (15 U.S.C. 
     1638(e)); and
       ``(II) to cancel such loan within 3 business days of the 
     date on which the loan is consummated, pursuant to section 
     128(e)(7) of such Act (15 U.S.C. 1638(e)(7)).

       ``(F) An explanation of the approved educational expenses 
     for which the borrower may use a loan made under part D.
       ``(G) Information on the annual and aggregate loan limits 
     for Federal Direct Stafford Loans and Federal Direct 
     Unsubsidized Stafford Loans.
       ``(H) Information on how interest accrues and is 
     capitalized during periods when the interest is not paid by 
     either the borrower or the Secretary.
       ``(I) In the case of a Federal Direct PLUS Loan or a 
     Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan, the option of the 
     borrower to pay the interest while the borrower is in school.
       ``(J) The definition of half-time enrollment at the 
     institution, during regular terms and summer school, if 
     applicable, and the consequences of not maintaining at least 
     half-time enrollment.
       ``(K) An explanation of the importance of contacting the 
     appropriate offices at the institution of higher education if 
     the borrower withdraws prior to completing the borrower's 
     program of study so that the institution can provide exit 
     counseling, including information regarding the borrower's 
     repayment options and loan consolidation.
       ``(L) For a first-time borrower--
       ``(i) a statement of the anticipated balance on the loan 
     for which the borrower is receiving counseling under this 
     subsection;
       ``(ii) based on such anticipated balance, the anticipated 
     monthly payment amount under, at minimum--

       ``(I) the standard repayment plan; and
       ``(II) an income-based repayment plan under section 493C, 
     as determined using regionally available data from the Bureau 
     of Labor Statistics of the average starting salary for the 
     occupation in which the borrower has an interest in or 
     intends to be employed; and

       ``(iii) an estimate of the projected monthly payment amount 
     under each repayment plan described in clause (ii), based on 
     the average cumulative indebtedness at graduation for 
     borrowers of loans made under part D who are in the same 
     program of study as the borrower.
       ``(M) For a borrower with an outstanding balance of 
     principal or interest due on a loan made under this title--
       ``(i) a current statement of the amount of such outstanding 
     balance and interest accrued;
       ``(ii) based on such outstanding balance, the anticipated 
     monthly payment amount under, at minimum, the standard 
     repayment plan and, using regionally available data from the 
     Bureau of Labor Statistics of the average starting salary for 
     the occupation the borrower intends to be employed, an 
     income-based repayment plan under section 493C; and
       ``(iii) an estimate of the projected monthly payment amount 
     under each repayment plan described in clause (ii), based 
     on--

       ``(I) the outstanding balance described in clause (i);
       ``(II) the anticipated outstanding balance on the loan for 
     which the student is receiving counseling under this 
     subsection; and
       ``(III) a projection for any other loans made under part D 
     that the borrower is reasonably expected to accept during the 
     borrower's program of study based on at least the expected 
     increase in the cost of attendance of such program.

       ``(N) The obligation of the borrower to repay the full 
     amount of the loan, regardless of whether the borrower 
     completes or does not complete the program in which the 
     borrower is enrolled within the regular time for program 
     completion.
       ``(O) The likely consequences of default on the loan, 
     including adverse credit reports, delinquent debt collection 
     procedures under Federal law, and litigation, and a notice of 
     the institution's most recent cohort default rate (defined in 
     section 435(m)), an explanation of the cohort default rate, 
     the most recent national average cohort default rate, and the 
     most recent national average cohort default rate for the 
     category of institution described in section 435(m)(4) to 
     which the institution belongs.
       ``(P) Information on the National Student Loan Data System 
     and how the borrower can access the borrower's records.
       ``(Q) The contact information for the institution's 
     financial aid office or other appropriate office at the 
     institution the borrower may contact if the borrower has any 
     questions about the borrower's rights and responsibilities or 
     the terms and conditions of the loan.
       ``(5) Borrowers receiving parent plus loans for dependent 
     students.--The information to be provided under paragraph 
     (1)(A) to a borrower of a Federal Direct PLUS Loan made on 
     behalf of a dependent student shall include the following:
       ``(A) The information described in subparagraphs (A) 
     through (C) and (N) through (Q) of paragraph (4).
       ``(B) The option of the borrower to pay the interest on the 
     loan while the loan is in deferment.
       ``(C) For a first-time borrower of such loan--
       ``(i) a statement of the anticipated balance on the loan 
     for which the borrower is receiving counseling under this 
     subsection;
       ``(ii) based on such anticipated balance, the anticipated 
     monthly payment amount under the standard repayment plan; and
       ``(iii) an estimate of the projected monthly payment amount 
     under the standard repayment plan, based on the average 
     cumulative indebtedness of other borrowers of Federal Direct 
     PLUS Loans made on behalf of dependent students who are in 
     the same program of study as the student on whose behalf the 
     borrower borrowed the loan.
       ``(D) For a borrower with an outstanding balance of 
     principal or interest due on such loan--
       ``(i) a statement of the amount of such outstanding 
     balance;

[[Page H4609]]

       ``(ii) based on such outstanding balance, the anticipated 
     monthly payment amount under the standard repayment plan; and
       ``(iii) an estimate of the projected monthly payment amount 
     under the standard repayment plan, based on--

       ``(I) the outstanding balance described in clause (i);
       ``(II) the anticipated outstanding balance on the loan for 
     which the borrower is receiving counseling under this 
     subsection; and
       ``(III) a projection for any other Federal Direct PLUS Loan 
     made on behalf of the dependent student that the borrower is 
     reasonably expected to accept during the program of study of 
     such student based on at least the expected increase in the 
     cost of attendance of such program.

       ``(E) Debt management strategies that are designed to 
     facilitate the repayment of such indebtedness.
       ``(F) An explanation that the borrower has the options to 
     prepay each loan, pay each loan on a shorter schedule, and 
     change repayment plans.
       ``(G) For each Federal Direct PLUS Loan made on behalf of a 
     dependent student for which the borrower is receiving 
     counseling under this subsection, the contact information for 
     the loan servicer of the loan and a link to such servicer's 
     Website.
       ``(6) Annual loan acceptance.--Prior to making the first 
     disbursement of a loan made under part D (other than a 
     Federal Direct Consolidation Loan) to a borrower for an award 
     year, an eligible institution, shall, as part of carrying out 
     the counseling requirements of this subsection for the loan, 
     ensure that after receiving the applicable counseling under 
     paragraphs (2), (4), and (5) for the loan the borrower 
     accepts the loan for such award year by--
       ``(A) signing the master promissory note for the loan;
       ``(B) signing and returning to the institution a separate 
     written statement that affirmatively states that the borrower 
     accepts the loan; or
       ``(C) electronically signing an electronic version of the 
     statement described in subparagraph (B).''.

     SEC. 3. EXIT COUNSELING.

       Section 485(b) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 
     U.S.C. 1092(b)) is amended--
       (1) in paragraph (1)(A)--
       (A) in the matter preceding clause (i), by striking 
     ``through financial aid offices or otherwise'' and inserting 
     ``through the use of an interactive program, during an exit 
     counseling session that is in-person or online, or through 
     the use of the online counseling tool described in subsection 
     (n)(1)(A)'';
       (B) by redesignating clauses (i) through (ix) as clauses 
     (iv) through (xii), respectively;
       (C) by inserting before clause (iv), as so redesignated, 
     the following:
       ``(i) a summary of the outstanding balance of principal and 
     interest due on the loans made to the borrower under part B, 
     D, or E;
       ``(ii) an explanation of the grace period preceding 
     repayment and the expected date that the borrower will enter 
     repayment;
       ``(iii) an explanation that the borrower has the option to 
     pay any interest that has accrued while the borrower was in 
     school or that may accrue during the grace period preceding 
     repayment or during an authorized period of deferment or 
     forbearance, prior to the capitalization of the interest;'';
       (D) in clause (iv), as so redesignated--
       (i) by striking ``sample information showing the average'' 
     and inserting ``information, based on the borrower's 
     outstanding balance described in clause (i), showing the 
     borrower's''; and
       (ii) by striking ``of each plan'' and inserting ``of at 
     least the standard repayment plan and the income-based 
     repayment plan under section 493C'';
       (E) in clause (ix), as so redesignated--
       (i) by inserting ``decreased credit score,'' after ``credit 
     reports,''; and
       (ii) by inserting ``reduced ability to rent or purchase a 
     home or car, potential difficulty in securing employment,'' 
     after ``Federal law,'';
       (F) in clause (x), as so redesignated, by striking 
     ``consolidation loan under section 428C or a'';
       (G) in clauses (xi) and (xii), as so redesignated, by 
     striking ``and'' at the end; and
       (H) by adding at the end the following:
       ``(xiii) for each of the borrower's loans made under part 
     B, D, or E for which the borrower is receiving counseling 
     under this subsection, the contact information for the loan 
     servicer of the loan and a link to such servicer's Website; 
     and
       ``(xiv) an explanation that an individual has a right to 
     annually request a disclosure of information collected by a 
     consumer reporting agency pursuant to section 612(a) of the 
     Fair Credit Reporting Act (15 U.S.C. 1681j(a)).'';
       (2) in paragraph (1)(B)--
       (A) by inserting ``online or'' before ``in writing''; and
       (B) by adding before the period at the end the following: 
     ``, except that in the case of an institution using the 
     online counseling tool described in subsection (n)(1)(A), the 
     Secretary shall attempt to provide such information to the 
     student in the manner described in subsection (n)(3)(C)''; 
     and
       (3) in paragraph (2)(C), by inserting ``, such as the 
     online counseling tool described in subsection (n)(1)(A),'' 
     after ``electronic means''.

     SEC. 4. ONLINE COUNSELING TOOLS.

       Section 485 of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 
     1092) is further amended by adding at the end the following:
       ``(n) Online Counseling Tools.--
       ``(1) In general.--Beginning not later than 1 year after 
     the date of enactment of the Empowering Students Through 
     Enhanced Financial Counseling Act, the Secretary shall 
     maintain--
       ``(A) an online counseling tool that provides the exit 
     counseling required under subsection (b) and meets the 
     applicable requirements of this subsection; and
       ``(B) an online counseling tool that provides the annual 
     counseling required under subsection (l) and meets the 
     applicable requirements of this subsection.
       ``(2) Requirements of tools.--In maintaining the online 
     counseling tools described in paragraph (1), the Secretary 
     shall ensure that each such tool is--
       ``(A) consumer tested, in consultation with other relevant 
     Federal agencies, to ensure that the tool is effective in 
     helping individuals understand their rights and obligations 
     with respect to borrowing a loan made under part D or 
     receiving a Federal Pell Grant;
       ``(B) understandable to students receiving Federal Pell 
     Grants and borrowers of loans made under part D; and
       ``(C) freely available to all eligible institutions.
       ``(3) Record of counseling completion.--The Secretary 
     shall--
       ``(A) use each online counseling tool described in 
     paragraph (1) to keep a record of which individuals have 
     received counseling using the tool, and notify the applicable 
     institutions of the individual's completion of such 
     counseling;
       ``(B) in the case of a borrower who receives annual 
     counseling for a loan made under part D using the tool 
     described in paragraph (1)(B), notify the borrower by when 
     the borrower should accept, in a manner described in 
     subsection (l)(6), the loan for which the borrower has 
     received such counseling; and
       ``(C) in the case of a borrower described in subsection 
     (b)(1)(B) at an institution that uses the online counseling 
     tool described in paragraph (1)(A) of this subsection, the 
     Secretary shall attempt to provide the information described 
     in subsection (b)(1)(A) to the borrower through such tool.''.

     SEC. 5. LONGITUDINAL STUDY ON THE EFFECTIVENESS OF STUDENT 
                   LOAN COUNSELING.

       (a) In General.--Not later than 1 year after the date of 
     enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Education, acting 
     through the Director of the Institute of Education Sciences, 
     shall begin conducting a rigorous, longitudinal study of the 
     impact and effectiveness of the student loan counseling--
       (1) provided under subsections (b), (l), and (n) of section 
     485 of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1092), as 
     amended by this Act; and
       (2) provided through such other means as the Secretary of 
     Education may determine.
       (b) Contents.--
       (1) Borrower information.--The longitudinal study carried 
     out under subsection (a) shall include borrower information, 
     in the aggregate and disaggregated by race, ethnicity, 
     gender, income, and status as an individual with a 
     disability, on--
       (A) student persistence;
       (B) degree attainment;
       (C) program completion;
       (D) successful entry into student loan repayment;
       (E) cumulative borrowing levels; and
       (F) such other factors as the Secretary of Education may 
     determine.
       (2) Exception.--The disaggregation under paragraph (1) 
     shall not be required in a case in which the number of 
     borrowers in a category is insufficient to yield 
     statistically reliable information or the results would 
     reveal personally identifiable information about an 
     individual borrower.
       (c) Interim Reports.--Not later than 18 months after the 
     commencement of the study under subsection (a), and annually 
     thereafter, the Secretary of Education shall evaluate the 
     progress of the study and report any short-term findings to 
     the appropriate committees of Congress.

     SEC. 6. AVAILABILITY OF FUNDS.

       (a) Use of Existing Funds.--Of the amount authorized to be 
     appropriated for maintaining the Department of Education's 
     Financial Awareness Counseling Tool, $2,000,000 shall be 
     available to carry out this Act and the amendments made by 
     this Act.
       (b) No Additional Funds Authorized.--No funds are 
     authorized to be appropriated by this Act to carry out this 
     Act or the amendments made by this Act.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from 
Kentucky (Mr. Guthrie) and the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. Pocan) 
each will control 20 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Kentucky.


                             General Leave

  Mr. GUTHRIE. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members 
have 5 legislative days in which to revise and extend their remarks and 
include extraneous material on H.R. 3179.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Kentucky?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. GUTHRIE. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  I rise today in strong support of H.R. 3179, the Empowering Students 
Through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act.
  Mr. Speaker, as a member on the Committee on Education and the 
Workforce, I was pleased to introduce a bipartisan bill that will help 
address a number of challenges Americans face

[[Page H4610]]

as they pursue their dream of higher education.
  As students and families explore all of the available options when 
trying to choose the right college or university, they face a daunting 
number of difficult choices, especially when it comes to financing 
their education.
  Deciding how to pay for college is an important decision that could 
have a lasting impact on a student's finances--long after he or she 
graduates and enters the workforce. Unfortunately, current policies 
that are supposed to promote the financial literacy of aid recipients 
often leave students and their families in the dark.
  Here is a troubling statistic: in a survey of current students and 
recent graduates who are carrying a high level of student loan debt, 
more than 40 percent couldn't remember ever receiving financial 
counseling--even though it was required before receiving their first 
loan.
  With college costs on the rise, we need to do more to help students 
and their families make informed, responsible decisions when it comes 
to financing a postsecondary education. That is why I, along with 
Representatives Allen and Bonamici, introduced H.R. 3179.
  This bipartisan legislation will provide Americans with the tools 
they need to better understand their financial aid options and 
obligations. By improving the timing and frequency of financial 
counseling, the bill will empower students and parents to make smart 
decisions about how to pay for their education and avoid unnecessary 
financial hardship down the road.
  The bill will require student and parent borrowers to receive 
financial counseling before even agreeing to a loan, helping them 
understand the responsibilities they are taking on before they sign on 
the dotted line. The bill also enhances the quality of the counseling, 
ensuring it is tailored to a borrower's unique needs and circumstances.
  The same is true for certain students who rely on Pell grants to 
finance their education. Under this legislation, students who receive a 
Pell grant but never receive a Federal student loan would also have to 
receive annual counseling to ensure they are aware of the grant's terms 
and conditions.
  Just as importantly, this bill will bolster exit counseling to help 
student borrowers understand their responsibilities as they leave 
school. This legislation will help ensure students understand their 
options and obligations when they begin their college careers and when 
they graduate.
  While it is important for students and parents to understand their 
functional obligations, it is important for them to understand their 
financial options as well. For example, while Federal loans have a 
number of benefits for borrowers, certain State, nonprofit, and private 
loans may actually have more beneficial annual percentage rates, 
particularly at the graduate and parent levels. An accurate comparison 
is important because it will allow students and parents to make the 
decision that is best for them.
  Together, these and other reforms in the bill will empower students 
and their families to make informed, responsible decisions when 
deciding how to finance their higher education. I urge my colleagues to 
vote ``yes'' on this bipartisan legislation.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. POCAN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  I rise today in support of H.R. 3179, the Empowering Students Through 
Enhanced Financial Counseling Act, a bill my colleague, Representative 
Bonamici, has been a leader on.
  A college degree remains one of the best investments a person can 
make to improve their skills and widen economic opportunities. At the 
same time, the decision to go to college also represents one of the 
most expensive decisions families can make. Many students and their 
families go into this process without the proper information to make 
this choice. The student debt crisis is, in part, a crisis in financial 
literacy where students lack knowledge about repayment plans that can 
help them affordably manage their student debt.
  Through legislation passed by Congress and regulations implemented by 
President Obama, most students taking out loans today can already cap 
their loan payments at an affordable 10 percent of their discretionary 
income. Yet students are often unaware of these repayment options.
  H.R. 3179 is a critical step in the right direction, filling a 
financial literacy gap faced by too many student aid recipients. This 
act provides better upfront, ongoing, and exit counseling information 
on financial aid and student debt so that students can make more 
informed choices of how to finance their education and always know how 
much they will owe.
  This legislation also allows borrowers to receive important 
counseling that private loans are not as generous as Federal loans and 
are informed of their rights as a consumer when taking out a private 
loan.
  There are many steps which need to be taken to address college 
affordability, and I am pleased to support this commonsense measure. I 
appreciate the leadership of my colleague from Kentucky.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. GUTHRIE. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from 
Minnesota (Mr. Kline), the chairman of the full committee.
  Mr. KLINE. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding and for 
his hard work on this and so many other bills in the Education and the 
Workforce Committee.
  Mr. Speaker, today I rise in strong support of this package of 
legislation.
  This bill is one of several bipartisan reforms the House is 
considering today that will help strengthen higher education and put 
more Americans on a path to success.
  A quality education is crucial to succeeding in today's workforce. 
Unfortunately, our costly, bureaucratic, and outdated higher education 
system leaves too many Americans behind.
  We all know the tough challenges that exist. College costs continue 
to rise. A dizzying maze of student aid programs discourages students 
from pursuing a degree or credential. Complex Federal rules impede 
innovation and make it harder for students to pursue a degree more 
quickly and at less cost.

  The net result is that it has become harder and harder for Americans 
to realize the dream of a higher education. Without the skills and 
knowledge they need to succeed in the workforce, many men and women 
struggle to find good-paying jobs and earn a living that provides for 
their families.
  Those who are fortunate enough to earn a degree are often saddled 
with student debt they can't afford and unprepared to start their 
careers in an increasingly competitive and changing economy.
  We have to do better, Mr. Speaker. We have to open more doors to 
opportunity and help more Americans reach their full potential.
  The bipartisan package of higher education reforms we are considering 
is a positive step toward achieving that goal. Together, these reforms 
will empower students and their parents to make informed decisions, 
simplify and improve the student aid process, enhance existing support 
for institutions serving minority students, and ensure strong 
accountability for taxpayer dollars.
  We have more work to do to strengthen higher education, but today we 
are making important progress.
  I want to thank my Republican and Democratic colleagues for putting 
their differences aside and working together to help more Americans 
pursue their dream of a college degree.
  Mr. Speaker, I urge Members to support these important proposals.
  Mr. POCAN. Mr. Speaker, I don't have any other speakers, and I yield 
back the balance of my time.
  Mr. GUTHRIE. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself the balance of my time.
  In closing, I want to remind my colleagues about the importance of 
this legislation.
  With today's struggling economy and the cost of college rising, it is 
more important than ever for students and their families to make 
decisions that will help them succeed, not set them up for failure. 
That includes decisions on how to pay for college.
  The Empowering Students Through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act 
will provide students and parents with the tools and information they 
need to make financially responsible decisions every step of the way.

[[Page H4611]]

  This is a bipartisan piece of legislation with my good friends, Mr. 
Allen and Ms. Bonamici. I am glad to be on the floor with my friend, 
Mr. Pocan, who I believe has a very big university in his district. He 
is from Madison. I thank him for doing that.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 3179, 
``Empowering Students through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act,'' 
which amends the Higher Education Act of 1965 to authorize $2 million 
allocated for activities related to student loan counseling.
  Financial literacy and consumer awareness is very crucial for all 
loan borrowers, especially for our youth.
  The loan will provide counseling of federal Pell Grant recipients 
with comprehensive information on the loan terms and conditions, as 
well as testing these students on their knowledge of this information 
before accepting the grant.
  Students receiving any Federal Loans would be notified of the loan 
conditions, informing them on the amount, eligibility, exhaustion, and 
consequences of borrowing the loan.
  An important aspect of this procedure includes a requirement for the 
borrowers to receive the contact information for the institution's 
financial aid office.
  I have college students interning in my office, who have taken out 
loans for their education and these are the largest sums they have 
borrowed in their lifetime.
  One student did not know that completing the FAFSA would 
automatically grant her a Federal Stafford Loan, and she did not find 
out about her loan until she received a job at her institution's 
financial aid office.
  Mr. Speaker, taking this example into account, educated students 
across the nation are not as familiar with the process and terms of 
Financial Aid and loans as they should be or as we ought to think they 
are.
  Through H.R. 3179, first-time borrowers will receive statements with 
interest rates and repayment plan options.
  This legislation will educate the individuals seeking an education on 
how to finance their studies.
  This legislation will also create jobs in underserved areas as well.
  Mr. Speaker, I urge all of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle 
to support this legislation.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion offered by the 
gentleman from Kentucky (Mr. Guthrie) that the House suspend the rules 
and pass the bill, H.R. 3179, as amended.
  The question was taken; and (two-thirds being in the affirmative) the 
rules were suspended and the bill, as amended, was passed.
  A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.

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