Amendment Text: H.Amdt.1006 — 110th Congress (2007-2008)

There is one version of the amendment.

Shown Here:
Amendment as Offered (04/17/2008)

This Amendment appears on page H2464 in the following article from the Congressional Record.


[Pages H2456-H2466]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




         ENSURING CONTINUED ACCESS TO STUDENT LOANS ACT OF 2008

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to House Resolution 1107 and rule 
XVIII, the Chair declares the House in the Committee of the Whole House 
on the State of the Union for the further consideration of the bill, 
H.R. 5715.

                              {time}  1100


                     In the Committee of the Whole

  Accordingly, the House resolved itself into the Committee of the 
Whole House on the State of the Union for the further consideration of 
the bill (H.R. 5715) to ensure continued availability of access to the 
Federal student loan program for students and families, with Mrs. 
Tauscher (Acting Chairman) in the chair.
  The Clerk read the title of the bill.
  The Acting CHAIRMAN. When the Committee of the Whole rose on 
Wednesday, April 16, 2008, 34 minutes remained in general debate.
  The gentleman from California (Mr. Miller) has 15\1/2\ minutes 
remaining and the gentleman from California (Mr. McKeon) has 18\1/2\ 
minutes remaining.
  Mr. GEORGE MILLER of California. Madam Chairman, I yield myself such 
time as I may consume.
  Madam Chairman, Members of the House, today we continue the 
consideration of H.R. 5715, the Ensuring Continued Access to Student 
Loans Act of 2008. This is legislation that was reported from the 
Committee on Education and Labor with unanimous bipartisan support. 
Once again today, I want to thank my colleagues on the committee on 
both sides of the aisle and the staff on both sides of the committee 
for working in a manner which allowed us to report this bill in very 
short order to the House for its consideration, and on working with the 
Department of Education, the Secretary of Education, Margaret 
Spellings, for her cooperation in helping us with this legislation so 
that we can assure the parents, families, and students of this country 
that there will be no interruption in their access to student loans.
  As the lending season starts to progress now, as students are getting 
their letters of acceptance, thinking about the next semesters of 
education and next year's education, as that lending season comes into 
its fullness, we want to make sure that there is no disruption.
  We are concerned about a disruption because of the general disruption 
that is taking place in the Nation's credit markets, and specifically, 
concern about whether or not there will be a spillover onto the student 
loan markets so that students will have difficulty finding those loans.
  We have worked with the Department of Education, we have worked with 
the administration, we have worked with the Republican members of the 
committee and our own caucus to devise a system of relief that is 
available to the Secretary and to the administration in the event that 
that should happen. And really what we're doing is three things: One, 
we're making sure that the existing law and the existing program for 
such an emergency, the Lender of Last Resort program, is functioning, 
that agreements are reached between the Secretary of Education and the 
Secretary of Treasury, and we've been told by the Secretary of 
Education that she has informed the members of the committee that that 
has been done, that the Secretary meet with the guarantee agencies that 
might stand in the stead of those lenders that cannot make those loans 
to make sure that there is a smooth transition between them and the 
universities and colleges, and that that program is in place.
  Also, that schools are aware that they can apply to qualify for the 
Direct Lending program. Many colleges and universities use that today. 
They may want to consider that so, again, there is smooth transition 
should the private lending market not be able to come forward with the 
student loans, they could direct their students to either of those two 
programs.
  And, finally, to try and help the private sector credit markets for 
student loans, as this bill does, to give standby

[[Page H2457]]

authority to the Secretary to purchase those government loans from the 
traditional lenders in the student loan field so that we might develop 
some liquidity in that market so that they can then take the money they 
receive from the Secretary and make a new tranche of student loans. If 
she purchases those loans, that money could only be used to provide a 
new set of student loans for the students for the coming year.
  And we also raised the loan limit for students, for undergraduates, 
because we understand that the private student loan market is in very 
rough shape, and there are some students who use private loans to fill 
a small gap between the total cost of their education and what they 
were able to borrow. We think by raising the limit, we will be able to 
help most of those students in that situation.
  So this is an important piece of legislation. It's legislation that 
we look to be acted upon in the Senate in a very timely fashion and 
then to be sent to the President, we believe, for his signature. And 
then we will have completed a series of standby authorities and a 
series of processes that we should be able to assure families and 
students that there will be no major interruption in the student 
lending for the remainder of this year and next year.
  With that, I will reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. McKEON. Madam Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may 
consume.
  Today we are continuing the debate on H.R. 5715, the Ensuring 
Continued Access to Student Loans Act of 2008. This bill is a first 
step to prevent a crisis before it happens in the student loan program, 
and its consideration has come not a minute too soon. Peak lending 
season begins in July, and we cannot, we must not, wait until a student 
is denied a loan to put mechanisms in place to deal with the turmoil in 
the student loan market.
  To date, 60 lenders have suspended their participation in all or part 
of the FFEL program. This includes 10 nonprofit State loan agencies 
affecting students in Pennsylvania, Texas, Colorado, Iowa, Indiana, 
Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire and Minnesota. These 
are not minor players exiting the program. Nine out of the top 10 
consolidation lenders have stopped offering these loans, while 20 out 
of the top 100 originators have stopped making Stafford and PLUS loans. 
These 60 lenders account for 13 percent of the total Stafford and PLUS 
loan volume and 76 percent of total consolidation loan volume.
  In fiscal year 2006, these lenders originated more than $6.5 billion 
in Stafford and PLUS loans to more than 800,000 students and parents, 
and more than $55 billion in consolidation loans to more than 1.8 
million borrowers.
  The bill before us includes necessary reforms to ensure the 
Department of Education can respond if students have access problems as 
lending season gets underway. First, it will allow students to receive 
additional financing that will help them stay in school if they are 
denied private, nonfederal loans. Second, the bill clarifies aspects of 
the Lender of Last Resort program, easing participation for students 
and schools and ensuring funds will be available should they become 
necessary. Third, the bill ensures that lenders have the authority to 
provide PLUS loans to struggling parents who are facing difficulties 
with their home mortgage. And, fourth, the bill grants new flexibility 
for parents with a new optional grace period that permits parents to 
defer PLUS loan payments until after the children graduate.
  Finally, the bill authorizes the Department of Education to invest in 
or agree to the future purchase of outstanding loans which could free 
up capital and allow lenders to make new loans in the upcoming school 
year.
  I want to thank the chairman for moving very rapidly on this 
situation. That's not our modus operandi around here; generally we wait 
until we're in the middle of a crisis to fix this. I hope that I'm 
wrong in thinking that there may be a crisis coming, but I think it is 
very appropriate to take these positive steps to ease or prevent a 
problem that could arise very shortly.
  I again thank the chairman for his efforts. He has not been well this 
week, but you wouldn't notice it. He shows up at every meeting, and he 
has worked very hard. I hope he takes some time over the weekend to get 
some rest and gets feeling better for next week.
  I strongly support this bill, and I encourage my colleagues to vote 
for it.
  Madam Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. GEORGE MILLER of California. If I might, I have one additional 
speaker, but the speaker is on his way to the floor. If you want to go 
ahead, then we will have that speaker, and I think we will yield back 
our time.
  Mr. McKEON. Madam Chairman, I am happy to yield 3 minutes at this 
time to the gentleman from Pennsylvania, ranking member on our 
Subcommittee for Healthy Families, Mr. Platts.
  Mr. PLATTS. I thank the ranking member for yielding me the time.
  I rise in support of H.R. 5715, the Ensuring Access to Student Loans 
Act. While not a complete solution to the current credit crunch that 
exists in the student loan market, this bill is a very important and 
strong starting point to ensure that students can continue to obtain 
affordable loans for their education.
  I am especially pleased that the manager's amendment included a 
provision that I was planning to offer as a stand-alone amendment to 
the underlying bill. Specifically, this provision will permit the 
Secretary of Education to enter into forward purchasing agreements with 
student loan lenders when purchasing loans through the newly 
established secondary market. This contractual agreement will provide 
the necessary confidence for lenders to not only participate in the 
market, but to continue to originate loans for students.
  Some lenders, such as the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance 
Agency, PHEAA, in my home State, have recently announced that they will 
not be originating additional loans due to the unstable market 
conditions. This could result in difficulties for students in 
Pennsylvania, and elsewhere, in obtaining the loans they need.
  It is imperative that Secretary Spellings at the Department of 
Education continue to work with Congress, as well as Secretary Paulson 
at the Department of Treasury and Chairman Bernanke at the Federal 
Reserve Bank, to provide access to capital sources for use in 
originating and purchasing loans.
  Last month, I joined with the majority of my colleagues in the 
Pennsylvania delegation in sending a letter to Secretaries Spellings 
and Paulson and Chairman Bernanke requesting that they adopt both a 
short-term strategy to inject revenue into the student loan market and 
a long-term strategy to prevent future capital market disruptions.
  While H.R. 5715 is a very important step in the right direction, the 
actions of Secretaries Spellings and Paulson and Chairman Bernanke will 
continue to be critically important to getting the student loan market 
fully back on track.
  I certainly commend Chairman Miller and Ranking Member McKeon for 
bringing forward this bipartisan piece of legislation--and, as the 
ranking member said, in such a quick fashion--the committee leadership 
and staff in getting this bill to the House floor aimed at providing 
relief to both students and lenders.
  Again, I also thank the chairman for including language in his 
manager's amendment providing for forward purchasing agreements. 
Allowing these agreements with the Department of Education will help to 
stabilize market conditions and thereby encourage lenders to originate 
more loans.
  I strongly support this legislation and encourage a ``yes'' vote.
  Mr. McKEON. Madam Chairman, I am happy to yield 3 minutes to the 
gentleman from Connecticut (Mr. Shays).
  Mr. SHAYS. I thank the gentleman for yielding. I appreciate the work 
on both sides of the aisle.
  Madam Chairman, I rise today in support of H.R. 5715, the Ensuring 
Continued Access to Student Loans Act, because it is an important 
legislative step to addressing the liquidity shortage in the student 
loan market.
  I would like to thank Chairman Miller, Ranking Member McKeon and the 
Education and Labor Committee in general for bringing this legislation 
to the floor today to ensure continued access to student loans in this 
time of financial strain.

[[Page H2458]]

  This isn't a Democratic or Republican issue, this is an American 
issue, and I'm grateful we were able to work together to take this 
first step to protect our Nation's students.
  The fallout of the subprime market and subsequent weakening of the 
credit market has destabilized what many consider to be sound 
investments, most notably, student loans. Investors are not hungry to 
invest, funds have dried up, and lenders have been unable to secure the 
capital they need to make new loans. All this in the aftermath of 
reductions in lender subsidies to the Federal Family Education Loan 
Program that were made in the past 3 years and have created the perfect 
storm in the student loan market. We should re-examine the effect of 
these cuts and affect swiftly if we have an over-cut in any area. 
What's more, lenders have backed out of the program before most 
students have even gone to secure their loans for next year.
  We see the potential for a problem ahead, and I believe it is our job 
in Congress to find solutions and alternatives now, before we see a 
repeat of the subprime mortgage market meltdown.
  When we considered the Higher Education Reauthorization bill back in 
February, I offered an amendment expressing a Sense of Congress that 
the Departments of Education and Treasury explore options within 
Federal financing institutions to ensure liquidity for the program 
providers. While I am pleased that Chairman Miller and Ranking Member 
McKeon have included this language in the bill before us today, I 
wonder if we would be in this situation had we worked to address this 
situation back in February.
  Lenders who have exited the FFEL program account for 13 percent of 
total student loan volume in the FFEL program. What's worse, we have 
not entered the period of time when students will call their individual 
lenders for next year's loans. We need to act quickly to prevent 
students from being denied loans.
  While I believe this bill is a good first step, we need to work with 
the Treasury Department to open access to Federal financing 
institutions like the Federal Home Loan Bank or the Federal Financing 
Bank.
  Ultimately, this is a liquidity issue. While I am pleased the bill 
provides additional Federal assistance to students and their families, 
I am concerned that we are not getting to the heart of the matter.

                              {time}  1115

  It is alarming to think in this period of economic uncertainty we 
would be willing to provide anything less than the highest quality 
education to citizens of our Nation. Access to higher education is 
critical to maintaining our global competitiveness.
  And, again, let me thank both the chairman and ranking member.
  Mr. McKEON. Madam Chairman, I yield myself the balance of my time.
  The Acting CHAIRMAN. The gentleman from California is recognized for 
9\1/2\ minutes.
  Mr. McKEON. Our economy is struggling, families are dealing with a 
higher cost of living, rising fuel costs, a struggling mortgage market, 
and the threat of higher taxes. The cost of a college education 
continues to rise, only now students and families are wondering whether 
they'll be able to get the loans they need to pay their tuition bills.
  Like most challenges to our economy, there's no easy answer to the 
difficulties in our student loan programs. We will need a combination 
of actions, maybe some legislatively, others through regulation, that 
will increase liquidity and restore confidence among investors and 
consumers.
  This bill is a first step and one that deserves bipartisan support. 
It signals our commitment to a strong Federal family education loan 
program and should help ease the minds of students and families, and it 
does these things without a single cost to the taxpayer.
  I want to again thank Chairman Miller for his leadership and 
bipartisan cooperation on this legislation. I would also like to 
recognize Representatives Ruben Hinojosa and Ric Keller, the chairman 
and senior Republican on the Higher Education Subcommittee, for their 
role in making this legislation a reality.
  The staff deserves special recognition for their efforts to bring 
this bill to the floor so quickly. On my staff I would like to thank 
Amy Jones along with Susan Ross and Sally Stroup; on Chairman Miller's 
staff, Gaby Gomez, Julie Radocchia, and Jeff Appel.
  Madam Chairman, this bill is a positive first step. It's good for 
students and families, it's good for taxpayers, and it's good for our 
economy. I urge my colleagues to vote ``yes.''
  Madam Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. GEORGE MILLER of California. Madam Chairman, I want to thank Mr. 
McKeon for mentioning my staff and to Julie Radocchia and also that I 
failed to mention her birthday yesterday when I recognized her service.
  Mr. BACA. Madam Chairman, I rise today to voice my strong support for 
H.R. 5715, the Ensuring Student Access to Federal Student Loans Act.
  Access to education and equality of opportunity are rights that every 
American deserves.
  H.R. 5715 helps to protect these rights--by ensuring the turmoil in 
the U.S. financial markets does not keep students from accessing the 
federal loans they need to pay for college.
  Because of the current stress in the U.S. credit markets, these 
protections are necessary now more than ever.
  This responsible bill increases the loan limits on federal college 
loans by $2,000 for undergraduate students, and also increases the 
total loan limits available to students over the course of their 
education.
  H.R. 5715 also gives parents more time to begin paying off their 
federal PLUS loans; and helps struggling home owners by making sure 
that short term delinquencies in mortgage payments don't prohibit 
eligible parents from taking federal loans; 225 thousand students in 
the state of California alone use need-based student loans.
  It is critical that Congress takes every step necessary to ensure the 
credit crunch does not prevent even one of them from receiving the 
education they deserve.
  I urge my colleagues to help keep America the land of opportunity, 
and to cast a vote in favor of H.R. 5715.
  Mr. TIAHRT. Madam Chairman, I rise today to offer my support for H.R. 
5715, the Ensuring Continued Access to Student Loans Act. As many of my 
colleagues are, no doubt, aware, the rupture of the housing bubble in 
this nation has had a ripple effect across our economy. The student 
loan industry has not been immune to these economic difficulties. In 
fact, in recent months, 57 providers of student loans have announced 
that they will no longer offer loans to students. This legislation is a 
good effort on the part of Congress to address this situation.
  We should delude ourselves by believing that this legislation is a 
panacea, bringing a complete solution to the circumstances we find 
ourselves in today. By and large, the lending market will need to take 
actions of its own to right the tottering ship. These efforts are 
things that Congress is not, and should not be, in the business of 
mandating. But this legislation does take steps to protect students and 
their families by providing assurances that the opportunities to 
finance a college education are not jeopardized while the lending 
market is in flux.
  Presently, experts in the field are unsure that the situation is, in 
fact, a ``crisis,'' pointing to a number of additional factors that may 
have contributed to the narrowing of the market. We will not know for 
several more months, when requests for student loans reach their peak, 
just how serious a problem we are facing. That is exactly the reason 
this legislation is the correct approach. It takes preventive steps to 
ensure that funding is available to students and their parents, if a 
crisis does arise. It does not create new mandates, but instead gives 
the Secretary of Education the authority to address potential problems.
  Ensuring access to affordable student loans is of great importance to 
this nation, to our economy, and to our millions of students in 
college. I appreciate the efforts of Mr. McKeon and Mr. Miller to bring 
this legislation to the floor in such a timely manner, and hope that 
this bill will be enough to stave off larger problems down the road.
  Mr. COURTNEY. Madam Chairman, I want to commend Chairman Miller for 
getting out ahead of the student lending issue before it becomes a 
full-fledged crisis. In March, the Education and Labor Committee heard 
testimony from the Secretary of Education, Margaret Spellings, and we 
urged her to take steps then to ensure student lending contingency 
plans were in place in the event of further troubles. Frankly, I was 
disappointed to learn that she and her team were only ``monitoring the 
situation.''
  It is imperative that students have uninterrupted access to student 
loans in the event that the mortgage crisis and credit crunch further 
ripple through the economy. Just yesterday, Citibank's student lending 
division announced it was going to stop lending at many

[[Page H2459]]

higher education institutions, though they wouldn't name which ones. 
This is troubling news since Citibank is the second largest originator 
of federal student loans.
  I met with the Connecticut Commissioner of Higher Education and the 
Director of Financial Aid at the University of Connecticut last month 
and let me tell you--they are taking this issue seriously. Financial 
Aid offices across the state are communicating to students and families 
to finalize their education financing now. I have also personally taken 
part in getting the word out to my constituents as well.
  Thankfully, Connecticut students also have backup from the state's 
own loan agency, the Connecticut Higher Education Supplemental Loan 
Authority, with $31 million to lend.
  Right now, we don't know how deep the effects will be, but it is 
prudent that students and their parents are given some relief now. This 
bill will steer borrowers away from costlier private loans and give 
parents more time to pay off PLUS loans. And it is crucial that 
Secretary Spellings has the authority now to advance federal funds if 
necessary.
  The federal government rushed in to bail out Bear Stearns. It is only 
right that we make sure that the federal government is ready to assist 
millions of students and families if the need arises.
  Mr. CARNEY. Madam Chairman, I rise today in support of H.R. 5715, the 
``Ensuring Continued Access to Student Loans Act of 2008.''
  This legislation will go a long way in helping to ensure the 
continued availability of Federal student loans. But it is only a first 
step and more needs to be done so that any student anywhere in America 
can attend the college of his or her choice.
  Today, 80 percent of all Federal student loans are made through the 
Federal Family Education Loan Program--commonly known as FFELP. 
According to the U.S. Department of Education, 6.8 million college 
students and their families will borrow nearly $60 billion from State, 
non-profit and private lenders who participate in the Federal student 
loan program.
  Ninety-five percent of all student loans made in the Commonwealth of 
Pennsylvania and nearly all student loans made at schools in my 
district are made through the FFEL program. Unfortunately, earlier this 
year, the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency--which was 
the second largest provider of Federal student loans in Pennsylvania 
last year--was forced to stop making Federal student loans. PHEAA's 
exit, along with others, from Pennsylvania's student loan market, means 
that nearly one-third of all borrowers in the Commonwealth must find 
new lenders for the upcoming academic year.
  In responding to the student loan credit crunch, the Administration 
has said that there are 2,000 lenders. That was true, but over the past 
few weeks, 52 lenders, including 23 of the top 100 lenders have simply 
stopped making Federal student loans. This represents over 13 percent 
of all FFELP loans made last year.
  Nineteen lenders have stopped making private education loans.
  In just the days since the Education and Labor Committee approved 
this bill and sent it to the floor, five major participants in the FFEL 
program have either stopped making Federal student loans altogether or 
have announced plans to dramatically scale back their ability to offer 
Federal student loans.
  In responding to the student loan credit crunch, some have said, we 
can make the State guaranty agencies ``Lenders of Last Resort,'' but 
this system has never been implemented, let alone tested.
  Others have said that if lenders stop making loans, students and 
schools can switch to Direct Lending. Yet Secretary Spellings recently 
testified that Direct Lending can only accommodate about one-third of 
the FFELP loan volume. If that is true, what will happen to the 4.5 
million students who may find themselves unable to get a Federal 
student loan?
  And still others have said that no students have been denied college 
loans yet so there is no need to act.
  I think most of my colleagues agree that the best time to prepare for 
a hurricane is before the storm hits.
  That is why the stated purpose of H.R. 5715 is to ensure continued, 
uninterrupted access to Federal student loans. One of its provisions 
would authorize the Secretary of Education, in consultation with the 
Treasury, to purchase student loans if there is not enough loan capital 
to meet the needs of students and their families.
  While I am pleased that the manager's amendment includes a provision 
that will provide borrowers with a continuity of loan servicers, and 
thereby keep default rates down, I am concerned that the provision 
authorizing the Secretary to purchase loans does not provide enough 
information or certainty to the marketplace to help increase access to 
college. Without this information, lenders may be financially unable to 
make new loans to new students this fall.
  During the consideration of this legislation by the Rules Committee, 
I offered an amendment that, had it been approved, would have defined 
the terms under which the Secretary of Education could exercise her 
temporary authority to both purchase student loans and maintain a 
continuity of servicing in order to minimize any disruption for 
students and schools.
  As this bill makes it way through the legislative process I hope that 
we will incorporate this language to define the terms under which the 
Secretary can exercise her temporary authority to purchase student 
loans more clearly than what is before us today.
  Madam Chairman, I am supporting this important legislation today, but 
our work is not done. While we may not be in a student loan crisis 
today and we certainly do not want to be alarmist, the responsible 
thing for Congress to do is to give the Administration all of the tools 
necessary to head off a student loan crisis. If I am wrong about the 
direction of the student loan market, and we incorporate my amendment, 
we will have a very strong back-up plan for a rainy day. If I am right 
and we do nothing, millions of students could be unable to go to 
college.
  Mr. GENE GREEN of Texas. Madam Chairman, I rise today in support of 
H.R. 5715, The Ensuring Continued Access to Student Loans Act of 2008.
  I would also like to thank Chairman Miller of the Education and Labor 
Committee and Chairman Hinojosa of the Subcommittee on Higher 
Education, Lifelong Learning and Competitiveness for their work on this 
important piece of legislation.
  Getting a college education has never been more important, and this 
bill will help ensure that students will still have access to the 
Federal loans they need to pay for college in the coming months.
  In recent months, uncertainty in the U.S. credit markets has made it 
difficult for some lenders in the federally guaranteed student loan 
program to secure the capital needed to finance college loans. Because 
of this, some lenders have scaled back their lending activity.
  While no student or college has reported any problems accessing 
Federal student aid to date, it is important that the Federal 
Government take steps to ensure that students will continue to have 
access to funds regardless of what happens in the U.S. credit markets.
  A viable Federal Family Education Loan Program is extremely important 
in my home state of Texas. The FFELP participants provide nearly two-
thirds of the student financial aid awarded annually to Texas 
postsecondary education students and parents contrasted to only 56 
percent nationally.
  Our students can now breathe a sigh of relief knowing that there will 
be liquidity and continued, uninterrupted access to Federal loans 
thanks to this bill.
  Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Madam Chairman, I rise today in support of 
H.R. 5715, ``Ensuring Continued Access to Student Loans Act of 2008'', 
introduced by Representative George Miller of California. I want to 
thank the Committee on Education and Labor for its efforts in this 
important area.
  Every generation sets out to improve upon the previous generation. We 
teach how children that if they focus, are responsible, and work hard 
they can be anything. Yet we have provided a false truth for 
the majority of our children. Rising tuitions in higher education even 
at our community colleges are keeping a lot of our youth from attending 
college. For those that are able to attend, they are burdened by 
extensive loans just to buy books, attend class, and maintain housing.

  Families are sending their children to school, trying to qualify for 
parent loans and wondering how they are going to make the payments when 
they are struggling to pay their mortgage and facing their own issues 
with possible unemployment.
  In my home State of Texas, families are struggling to assist children 
with their education while they face an unemployment rate of 4.3 
percent across the State. As of the end of last year, Texas was ranked 
as having the 20th highest unemployment rate (out of the 50 States). 
And we are not alone as States grapple with unemployment and a falling 
housing market.
  H.R. 5715, Ensuring Continued Access to Student Loans Act, provides 
much needed support to our families in a time when they most need it by 
specifically addressing the needs of parents, students, and even 
lenders. The Student loans Act would:
  Increase unsubsidized loan limits for students: This bill will 
increase unsubsidized loan limits by $2,000 for each year of 
undergraduate and graduate school. It also increases the aggregate loan 
limits to $31,000 for dependent undergraduates and $57,500 for 
independent undergraduate students.
  Delayed repayment of parent PLUS loans: Currently PLUS loan 
borrowers--parents--go into repayment 60 days after disbursement of the 
loan. This bill would give families an option

[[Page H2460]]

of not entering repayment for up to 6 months after a student leaves 
school.
  PLUS loan eligibility for struggling home-owners: Under current law, 
parents with an adverse credit history are ineligible to receive a 
parent PLUS loan, except under extenuating circumstances. In light of 
the current housing market, the bill temporarily qualifies up to 180-
day delinquency on home mortgages as an extenuating circumstance, 
therefore making it more possible for parents struggling with the 
current housing market to secure loans for their children.
  Lender of Last Resort flexibility: The bill makes clear in statute 
that the Secretary of Education has the mandatory authority to advance 
Federal funds to Guaranty Agencies in the case that they do not have 
sufficient capital. Further, the bill allows a Guaranty Agency to 
designate a school (rather than an individual student) as a ``lender of 
last resort school,'' in accordance with guidelines set by the 
Secretary.
  Authority for the Secretary of Education to purchase FFEL loan 
assets: The bill gives the Secretary the temporary authority, upon a 
determination that there is inadequate availability to meet demand for 
loans, to purchase loans from FFEL lenders. Such purchases could only 
be made in the case they are revenue-neutral or beneficial to the 
Federal Government.
  Federal Institutions' participation: The bill includes a Sense of the 
Congress that the Federal Financial Institutions and entities 
(including the Federal Financing Bank, the Federal Home Loan Banks, and 
the Federal Reserve) should consider using, in consultation with the 
Secretaries of Education and the Treasury, available authorities, if 
needed, to assist in ensuring continued student loan access.
  I urge my colleagues to vote for H.R. 5715, Ensuring Continued Access 
to Student Loans Act. Let's support education by allowing for greater 
flexibility, eligibility, and participation for students and their 
families.
  Mr. KIND. Madam Chairman, I rise today in support of the Ensuring 
Continued Access to Student Loans Act of 2008, a bill to continue the 
promise Congress made in 1965 to provide all Americans, regardless of 
culture or socioeconomic status, greater opportunities to further their 
education. This bill recognizes the shared benefits to both individual 
Americans and to the country as a whole of ensuring future generations 
have the tools necessary to be successful in a vastly competitive 21st 
century workforce.
  The opportunity for children to attend institutions of higher 
education is essential in preparing our future leaders. While the 
number of students with the academic knowledge, talent, and desire to 
attend and succeed in college has substantially increased over time, 
the necessary financial assistance has regrettably not kept pace. We 
must reverse this trend and uphold the Federal Government's commitment 
to America's schools and to all of our children.
  The recent instability in financial markets has hurt more than just 
homeowners, and many individuals and their families are finding it 
difficult to secure student loans to attend college. The ensuring 
Continued Access to Student Loans Act assists future and current 
students by increasing unsubsidized loan limits for undergraduate and 
graduate students, giving parent borrowers more time before they begin 
paying off their Federal Plus loans and encouraging Federal financial 
institutions' participation in ensuring continued student loan access.
  As a former member of the Education and Labor Committee, a 
representative of 12 institutions of higher education located in the 
Third Congressional District of Wisconsin, and a father of 2 school-
aged boys, I recognize the importance of increased access to post-
secondary education and ensuring that everyone who wishes to attend 
college can afford to do so. The ensuring Continued Access to Student 
Loans Act is a step in the right direction, and I encourage my 
colleagues to join me in supporting this important piece of 
legislation.
  Ms. WOOLSEY. Madam Chairman, I rise today in support of H.R. 5715, 
the Ensuring Continued Access to Student Loans Act of 2008. Everyone 
deserves access to the best possible opportunities, which include a 
college education. No student should be denied a college education 
because he or she can't afford it. That's why we must continue to find 
ways to increase student access to financial aid to ensure that 
students and their families have every possible opportunity to acquire 
a college education.
  We can't let the current credit crisis limit any student's 
opportunities to receive a college education. This bill would give the 
Secretary of Education the tools to help schools in need find a lender 
and give students access to the money they need to attend school. To 
keep America competitive in the global market, we must continue to 
ensure that every student receives access to the best possible college 
education.
  This bill serves as a preventative measure and goes a long way 
towards averting any possible crisis in July or August when our 
Nation's students and their families are looking for ways to pay for 
the next school year. I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 5715.
  Mr. GEORGE MILLER of California. Madam Chairman, I yield back the 
balance of my time.
  The Acting CHAIRMAN. All time for general debate has expired.
  Pursuant to the rule, the amendment printed in part A of House Report 
110-590 is adopted and the bill, as amended, shall be considered as an 
original bill for the purpose of further amendment under the 5-minute 
rule and shall be considered read.
  The text of the bill, as amended, is as follows:

                               H.R. 5715

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

     SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

       This title may be cited as the ``Ensuring Continued Access 
     to Student Loans Act of 2008''.

     SEC. 2. INCREASING UNSUBSIDIZED STAFFORD LOAN LIMITS FOR 
                   UNDERGRADUATE AND GRADUATE STUDENTS.

       (a) Amendments.--Subsection (d) of section 428H of the 
     Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1078-8(d)) is amended 
     to read as follows:
       ``(d) Loan Limits.--
       ``(1) In general.--Except as provided in paragraphs (2), 
     (3), and (4), the annual and aggregate limits for loans under 
     this section shall be the same as those established under 
     section 428(b)(1), less any amount received by such student 
     pursuant to the subsidized loan program established under 
     section 428.
       ``(2) Limits for graduate and professional students.--
       ``(A) Annual limits.--The maximum annual amount of loans 
     under this section a graduate or professional student may 
     borrow in any academic year (as defined in section 481(a)(2)) 
     or its equivalent shall be the amount determined under 
     paragraph (1), plus--
       ``(i) in the case of such a student who is a graduate or 
     professional student attending an eligible institution, 
     $14,000; and
       ``(ii) in the case of a graduate student enrolled in 
     coursework specified in sections 484(b)(3)(B) and 
     484(b)(4)(B), $7,000;

     except in cases where the Secretary determines, that a higher 
     amount is warranted in order to carry out the purpose of this 
     part with respect to students engaged in specialized training 
     requiring exceptionally high costs of education, but the 
     annual insurable limit per student shall not be deemed to be 
     exceeded by a line of credit under which actual payments by 
     the lender to the borrower will not be made in any years in 
     excess of the annual limit.
       ``(B) Aggregate limit.--The maximum aggregate amount of 
     loans under this section a student described in subparagraph 
     (A) may borrow shall be the amount described in paragraph 
     (1), adjusted to reflect the increased annual limits 
     described in subparagraph (A), as prescribed by the Secretary 
     by regulation.
       ``(3) Limits for undergraduate dependent students.--
       ``(A) Annual limits.--The maximum annual amount of loans 
     under this section an undergraduate dependent student (except 
     an undergraduate dependent student whose parents are unable 
     to borrow under section 428B or the Federal Direct PLUS Loan 
     Program) may borrow in any academic year (as defined in 
     section 481(a)(2)) or its equivalent shall be the sum of the 
     amount determined under paragraph (1), plus $2,000.
       ``(B) Aggregate limits.--The maximum aggregate amount of 
     loans under this section a student described in subparagraph 
     (A) may borrow shall be $31,000.
       ``(4) Limits for undergraduate independent students.--
       ``(A) Annual limits.--The maximum annual amount of loans 
     under this section an undergraduate independent student, or 
     an undergraduate dependent student whose parents are unable 
     to borrow under section 428B or the Federal Direct PLUS Loan 
     Program, may borrow in any academic year (as defined in 
     section 481(a)(2)) or its equivalent shall be the sum of the 
     amount determined under paragraph (1), plus--
       ``(i) in the case of such a student attending an eligible 
     institution who has not completed such student's first 2 
     years of undergraduate study--

       ``(I) $6,000, if such student is enrolled in a program 
     whose length is at least one academic year in length; or
       ``(II) if such student is enrolled in a program of 
     undergraduate education which is less than one academic year, 
     the maximum annual loan amount that such student may receive 
     may not exceed the amount that bears the same ratio to the 
     amount specified in clause (i) as the length of such program 
     measured in semester, trimester, quarter, or clock hours 
     bears to one academic year;

       ``(ii) in the case of such a student at an eligible 
     institution who has successfully completed such first and 
     second years but has not successfully completed the remainder 
     of a program of undergraduate education--

       ``(I) $7,000; or
       ``(II) if such student is enrolled in a program of 
     undergraduate education, the remainder of which is less than 
     one academic

[[Page H2461]]

     year, the maximum annual loan amount that such student may 
     receive may not exceed the amount that bears the same ratio 
     to the amount specified in subclause (I) as such remainder 
     measured in semester, trimester, quarter, or clock hours 
     bears to one academic year; and

       ``(iii) in the case of such a student enrolled in 
     coursework specified in sections 484(b)(3)(B) and 
     484(b)(4)(B), $6,000 for coursework necessary for enrollment 
     in an undergraduate degree or certificate program.
       ``(B) Aggregate limits.--The maximum aggregate amount of 
     loans under this section a student described in subparagraph 
     (A) may borrow shall be $57,500.
       ``(5) Capitalized interest.--Interest capitalized shall not 
     be deemed to exceed a maximum aggregate amount determined 
     under subparagraph (B) of paragraph (2), (3), or (4).''.
       (b) Effective Date.--The amendments made by this section 
     shall be effective for loans issued on or after July 1, 2008.

     SEC. 3. GRACE PERIOD FOR PARENT PLUS LOANS.

       (a) Amendment.--Section 428B(d) (20 U.S.C. 1078-2(d)) is 
     amended by amending paragraphs (1) and (2) to read as 
     follows:
       ``(1) Commencement of repayment.--Repayment of principal on 
     loans made under this section shall--
       ``(A) commence not later than--
       ``(i) 60 days after the date such loan is disbursed by the 
     lender, except as provided in clause (ii); and
       ``(ii) if agreed upon by a parent borrower, the day after 6 
     months after the date the student for whom the loan is 
     borrowed ceases to carry at least one-half the normal full-
     time academic workload (as determined by the institution); 
     and
       ``(B) be subject to deferral during any period during which 
     the graduate or professional student or the parent meets the 
     conditions required for a deferral under section 427(a)(2)(C) 
     or 428(b)(1)(M).
       ``(2) Capitalization of interest.--
       ``(A) In general.--Interest on loans made under this 
     section--
       ``(i) which accrues prior to the beginning of repayment 
     under paragraph (1)(A)(i), shall be added to the principal 
     amount of the loan; and
       ``(ii) which accrues prior to the beginning of repayment 
     under paragraph (1)(A)(ii) or during a period in which 
     payments of principal are deferred pursuant to paragraph 
     (1)(B) shall, if agreed upon by the borrower and the lender--

       ``(I) be paid monthly or quarterly; or
       ``(II) be added to the principal amount of the loan not 
     more frequently than quarterly by the lender.

       ``(B) Insurable limits.--Capitalization of interest under 
     this paragraph shall not be deemed to exceed the annual 
     insurable limit on account of the borrower.''.
       (b) Conforming Amendment.--Section 428(b)(7)(C) (20 U.S.C. 
     1078(b)(7)(C)) is amended by striking ``, 428B,''.
       (c) Effective Date.--The amendments made by this section 
     shall be effective for loans issued on or after July 1, 2008.

     SEC. 4. SPECIAL RULES FOR PLUS LOANS.

       Section 428B(a)(3) is amended to read as follows:
       ``(3) Special rules.--
       ``(A) Parent borrowers.--Whenever necessary to carry out 
     the provisions of this section, the terms `student' and 
     `borrower' as used in this part shall include a parent 
     borrower under this section.
       ``(B) Extenuating circumstances.--For loans made on or 
     after July 1, 2008, and before July 1, 2009, a lender may 
     determine that a borrower meets the extenuating circumstances 
     requirement described in regulations promulgated by the 
     Secretary to carry out this section or section 455 if the 
     borrower is 180 or fewer days delinquent on their home 
     mortgage payments.''.

     SEC. 5. LENDER-OF-LAST-RESORT.

       (a) In General.--Section 428(j) of the Higher Education Act 
     of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1078(j)) is amended--
       (1) in the first sentence of paragraph (1), by striking 
     ``students eligible to receive interest benefits paid on 
     their behalf under subsection (a) of this section who are 
     otherwise unable to obtain loans under this part'' and 
     inserting ``students and parents who are otherwise unable to 
     obtain loans under this part (except for consolidation loans 
     under section 428C) or who attend an institution of higher 
     education in the State that is designated under paragraph 
     (4)'';
       (2) in paragraph (2)(B), by inserting ``, in the case of 
     students and parents applying for loans under this subsection 
     because of an inability to otherwise obtain loans under this 
     part (except for consolidation loans under section 428C),'' 
     after ``lender, nor'';
       (3) in paragraph (3)(C)--
       (A) in the first sentence, by inserting ``or designates an 
     institution of higher education for participation in the 
     program under this subsection under paragraph (4),'' after 
     ``under this part''; and
       (B) in the third sentence, by inserting ``or to eligible 
     borrowers who attend an institution in the State that is 
     designated under paragraph (4)'' after ``problems''; and
       (4) by adding at the end the following:
       ``(4) Institution-wide student qualification.--Upon the 
     request of an institution of higher education and pursuant to 
     standards developed by the Secretary, the guaranty agency 
     designated for a State shall designate such institution for 
     participation in the lender-of-last-resort program under this 
     paragraph. If the guaranty agency designates an institution 
     under this paragraph, such agency shall make loans, in the 
     same manner as such loans are made under paragraph (1), to 
     students and parent borrowers of the designated institution, 
     regardless of whether the students or parent borrowers are 
     otherwise unable to obtain loans under this part (other than 
     a consolidation loan under section 428C).''.
       (b) Effective Date.--The amendments made by subsection (a) 
     shall take effect on the date of enactment of this Act.

     SEC. 6. MANDATORY ADVANCES.

       (a) In General.--Section 421(b) of the Higher Education Act 
     of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1071(b)) is amended--
       (1) in paragraph (4), by striking ``programs, and'' and 
     inserting ``programs,'';
       (2) in paragraph (5), by striking ``agencies.'' and 
     inserting ``agencies, and''; and
       (3) by adding at the end the following:
       ``(6) there is authorized to be appropriated, and there are 
     appropriated, out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise 
     appropriated, such sums as may be necessary for the purpose 
     of carrying out section 422(c)(7).''.
       (b) Effective Date.--The amendments made by subsection (a) 
     shall take effect on the date of enactment of this Act.

     SEC. 7. TEMPORARY AUTHORITY TO PURCHASE STUDENT LOANS.

       (a) Spending Authority.--
       (1) Authority granted.--The first sentence of section 
     451(a) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 
     1087a(a)) is amended--
       (A) by inserting ``(1)'' after ``as may be necessary''; and
       (B) by inserting before the period at the end of such 
     sentence the following: ``; and (2) for purchasing loans 
     under section 459A''.
       (2) Conforming amendment.--Section 451(a) of such Act (20 
     U.S.C. 1087a(a)) is further amended by striking ``Such loans 
     shall'' and inserting ``Loans made under this part shall''.
       (b) Temporary Authority.--Part D of title IV of the Higher 
     Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1087a et seq.) is amended by 
     inserting after section 459 the following new section:

     ``SEC. 459A. TEMPORARY AUTHORITY TO PURCHASE STUDENT LOANS.

       ``(a) Authority To Purchase.--
       ``(1) Authority; determination required.--Upon a 
     determination by the Secretary that there is an inadequate 
     availability of loan capital to meet the demand for loans 
     under sections 428, 428B, or 428H, whether as a result of 
     inadequate liquidity for such loans or for other reasons, the 
     Secretary, in consultation with the Secretary of the 
     Treasury, is authorized to purchase from any eligible lender, 
     as defined by section 435(d)(1), loans originated under 
     sections 428, 428B, or 428H on or after October 1, 2003, on 
     such terms as the Secretary, the Secretary of the Treasury, 
     and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget 
     jointly determine are in the best interest of the United 
     States, except that any purchase under this section shall not 
     result in any net cost to the Federal Government, as 
     determined jointly by the Secretary, the Secretary of the 
     Treasury, and the Director of the Office of Management and 
     Budget.
       ``(2) Regulations required.--The Secretary, the Secretary 
     of the Treasury, and the Director of the Office of Management 
     and Budget shall jointly promulgate emergency regulations and 
     publish such emergency regulations promptly in the Federal 
     Register concerning the purchases authorized by paragraph 
     (1).
       ``(3) Methodology and factors; justification required.--
     Such regulations shall outline the methodology and factors 
     that the Secretary, the Secretary of the Treasury, and the 
     Director of the Office of Management and Budget shall 
     consider in evaluating the price at which to purchase loans 
     under sections 428, 428B, or 428H, and shall include a 
     justification of how the use of such methodology and 
     consideration of such factors used to determine purchase 
     price will ensure that loan purchases do not result in any 
     net cost to the Federal Government.
       ``(b) Proceeds.--The Secretary shall require, as a 
     condition of any purchase under subsection (a), that the 
     funds paid by the Secretary to any eligible lender under this 
     section shall be used in a manner consistent with ensuring 
     continued participation of such lender in the Federal student 
     loan programs authorized under part B of this title.
       ``(c) Expiration of Authority.--The Secretary's authority 
     to purchase loans under this section shall expire on July 1, 
     2009.''.
       (c) Contracting Authority.--Section 456(b) of the Higher 
     Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1087f(b)) is amended by 
     inserting ``or purchased'' after ``loans made'' each place it 
     appears in paragraphs (2) and (3).

     SEC. 8. SENSE OF CONGRESS.

       It is a sense of Congress that, at a time when our economy 
     is fragile and higher education and retraining opportunities 
     are more important than ever--
       (1) the Federal financial institutions, such as the Federal 
     Financing Bank and Federal Reserve, and federally chartered 
     private entities such as the Federal Home Loan Banks and 
     others, should consider, in consultation with the Secretary 
     of Treasury and the Secretary of Education, using available 
     authorities in a timely manner, if needed, to assist in 
     ensuring that students and families can access Federal 
     student loans for academic

[[Page H2462]]

     year 2008-2009, and if needed in the subsequent academic 
     year, in a manner that results in no increased costs to 
     taxpayers; and
       (2) any action taken as a result of such consideration 
     should in no way limit or delay the Secretary of Education's 
     authority to operate the lender-of-last-resort provisions of 
     section 428(j) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (as 
     amended by this Act), nor the authority to purchase Federal 
     Family Education Loan Program loans, as authorized by section 
     459A of such Act (as added by this Act).

  The Acting CHAIRMAN. No further amendment to the bill, as amended, 
shall be in order except those printed in part B of the report. Each 
further amendment may be offered only in the order printed in the 
report, by a Member designated in the report, shall be considered read, 
shall be debatable for the time specified in the report, equally 
divided and controlled by the proponent and an opponent of the 
amendment, shall not be subject to amendment, and shall not be subject 
to a demand for division of the question.


   Part B Amendment No. 1 Offered by Mr. George Miller of California

  The Acting CHAIRMAN. It is now in order to consider amendment No. 1 
printed in part B of House Report 110-590.
  Mr. GEORGE MILLER of California. Madam Chairman, I offer an 
amendment.
  The Acting CHAIRMAN. The Clerk will designate the amendment.
  The text of the amendment is as follows:

       Part B amendment No. 1 offered by Mr. George Miller of 
     California:
       In section 2 of the bill--
       (1) redesignate subsection (b) as subsection (c); and
       (2) after subsection (a) insert the following new 
     subsection:
       (b) Student Eligibility.--Loan limit increases authorized 
     by the amendments made by this section shall be available 
     only to students who meet the requirements of section 484(a) 
     of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1091(a)).
       In section 428H(d) of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as 
     amended by section 2(a) of the bill--
       (1) in clause (i) of paragraph (2)(A), strike ``$14,000'' 
     and insert ``$12,000''; and
       (2) in subclause (II) of paragraph (4)(A)(i), strike 
     ``clause (i)'' and insert ``subclause (I)''.
       In section 3 of the bill--
       (1) in subsection (a), insert ``of the Higher Education Act 
     of 1965'' after ``428B(d)''; and
       (2) in subsection (b), insert ``of such Act'' after 
     ``428(b)(7)(C)''.
       In section 4 of the bill, insert ``of the Higher Education 
     Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1078-2(a)(3))'' after ``428B(a)(3)''.
       In section 428B(a)(3) of the Higher Education Act of 1965, 
     as amended by section 4 of the bill, strike subparagraph (B) 
     and insert the following:
       ``(B)(i) Extenuating circumstances.--For loans made on or 
     after July 1, 2008, and before July 1, 2009, a lender may 
     determine that extenuating circumstances exist under the 
     regulations promulgated pursuant to paragraph (1)(A) if an 
     applicant for a loan under this section is delinquent for 180 
     days or less on their home mortgage payments and is not more 
     than 89 days delinquent on the repayment of any other debt.
       ``(ii) Master calendar inapplicable.--Section 482 shall not 
     apply to determinations made under clause (i).''.
       In section 5(a) of the bill--
       (1) in paragraph (1), strike ``students and parents'' and 
     insert ``eligible students and parents'';
       (2) in paragraph (3)(A), strike the comma after ``paragraph 
     (4)''; and
       (3) in paragraph (4), strike paragraph (4) of section 
     428(j) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 added by such 
     paragraph of the bill and insert the following:
       ``(4) Institution-wide student qualification.--Upon the 
     request of an institution of higher education and pursuant to 
     standards developed by the Secretary, the Secretary shall 
     designate such institution for participation in the lender-
     of-last-resort program under this paragraph. If the Secretary 
     designates an institution under this paragraph, the guaranty 
     agency designated for the State in which the institution is 
     located shall make loans, in the same manner as such loans 
     are made under paragraph (1), to students and parent 
     borrowers of the designated institution, regardless of 
     whether the students or parent borrowers are otherwise unable 
     to obtain loans under this part (other than a consolidation 
     loan under section 428C).
       ``(5) Standards developed by the secretary.--In developing 
     standards with respect to paragraph (4), the Secretary may 
     require--
       ``(A) an institution of higher education to demonstrate 
     that, despite due diligence on the part of the institution, 
     the institution has been unable to secure the commitment of 
     lenders willing to make loans to a significant number of 
     students attending the institution;
       ``(B) that, prior to making a request under such paragraph 
     for designation for participation in the lender-of-last-
     resort program, an institution of higher education shall 
     demonstrate that the institution has met a minimum threshold, 
     as determined by the Secretary, for the number or percentage 
     of students at such institution who have received rejections 
     from eligible lenders for loans under this part; and
       ``(C) any other standards and guidelines the Secretary 
     determines to be appropriate.''.
       In section 459A of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as 
     added by section 7 of the bill--
       (1) in subsection (a)(1), insert ``, or enter into forward 
     commitments to purchase,'' after ``is authorized to 
     purchase'';
       (2) in subsection (b)--
       (A) strike ``shall be used'' and all that follows through 
     the period and insert the following: ``shall be used (1) to 
     ensure continued participation of such lender in the Federal 
     student loan programs authorized under part B of this title, 
     and (2) to originate new Federal loans to students, as 
     authorized under part B of this title.'';
       (3) redesignate subsection (c) as subsection (d); and
       (4) after subsection (b), insert the following new 
     subsection:
       ``(c) Maintaining Servicing Arrangements.--The Secretary 
     may, if agreed upon by an eligible lender selling loans under 
     this section, contract with such lender for the servicing of 
     the loans purchased, provided that--
       ``(1) the cost of such servicing arrangement does not 
     exceed the cost the Federal Government would otherwise incur 
     for the servicing of loans purchased, as determined under 
     subsection (a); and
       ``(2) such servicing arrangement is in the best interest of 
     the borrowers whose loans are purchased.

  The Acting CHAIRMAN. Pursuant to House Resolution 1107, the gentleman 
from California (Mr. George Miller) and a Member opposed each will 
control 5 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from California.
  Mr. GEORGE MILLER of California. Madam Chairman, I rise in support of 
the manager's amendment to H.R. 5715, the Ensuring Continued Access to 
Student Loans Act of 2008. The amendment was done on a bipartisan basis 
with the input of the senior Republican member, Mr. McKeon. The 
manager's amendment we are considering here today makes various 
technical changes to the legislation and additional substantive changes 
to ensure continued access to Federal student loans.
  Specifically, the amendment makes the following changes: It targets 
loan limit increases to undergraduate students and families. It 
clarifies that only eligible students as defined under section 435(a) 
may qualify for these loans as with all other Federal student aid. It 
clarifies that at the discretion of the Secretary, a loan may continue 
to be serviced by the current lender. And in regard to school-wide 
Lender of Last Resort eligibility, it specifies that the Secretary of 
Education shall determine whether a school qualifies and provides 
criteria for the Secretary to consider in making the determination. It 
specifies that funds received by lenders from loan sales will be used 
to originate new loans. And it clarifies that, at the discretion of the 
Secretary, a loan purchased by the Secretary may continue to be 
serviced by the current lender.
  Now more than ever, families deserve every assurance that we are 
doing all that we can to make sure that they will continue to be able 
to access the low-cost loans they need to pay for college, regardless 
of what happens in the credit markets. I am confident that our efforts, 
coupled with the proper planning by the Federal Government, will 
provide them with that guarantee.
  I urge my colleagues to support this amendment.
  Madam Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. McKEON. Madam Chairman, I claim time in opposition, but I will 
not be opposing the amendment.
  The Acting CHAIRMAN. Without objection, the gentleman from California 
is recognized for 5 minutes.
  There was no objection.
  Mr. McKEON. Madam Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may 
consume.
  I want to thank Chairman Miller for his work on this amendment. Like 
the underlying bill, this amendment was developed on a bipartisan basis 
to respond to some of the very specific challenges facing our student 
loan program. Although many of the challenges in this amendment are 
technical in nature, they will help to perfect the bill and ensure it 
has the impact we intend.
  For instance, the purpose of this bill has never been to force a 
shift from the FFEL program to the Direct Loan program. That's why the 
amendment clarifies that if the Secretary of Education does purchase 
outstanding

[[Page H2463]]

loans, she can keep those loans with their existing servicing 
arrangements. This will ensure a seamless transition for students while 
having the intended effect of freeing up capital to make new loans.
  The amendment also ensures the bill will have no cost to taxpayers. 
From the outset Chairman Miller and I agreed that it was important to 
move a bill that made meaningful reforms without driving up spending. 
H.R. 5715 does exactly that.
  With regard to the Lender of Last Resort program, the amendment 
clarifies some of the steps that must be taken in order to designate 
school-wide participation in this program. These reforms will be 
enhanced even further by the amendment that will be offered shortly by 
Representative Petri.
  I appreciate Chairman Miller's willingness to include language 
proposed by Representative Platts that adds greater clarity and 
flexibility within the Secretary's ability to purchase loans. Although 
it was always our intent that this new, temporary authority would 
include the concept of a ``forward purchase agreement,'' this amendment 
makes it explicit that the Secretary can enter into agreements to 
purchase loans in the future. The amendment also clarifies that lenders 
must reinvest the proceeds from the sale of loans to the Secretary back 
into making new loans to students.
  Once again, I want to thank Chairman Miller for his work on this 
amendment and on the bill as a whole.
  Madam Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. GEORGE MILLER of California. Madam Chairman, I yield back the 
balance of my time.
  The Acting CHAIRMAN. The question is on the amendment offered by the 
gentleman from California (Mr. George Miller).
  The question was taken; and the Acting Chairman announced that the 
ayes appeared to have it.
  Mr. GEORGE MILLER of California. Madam Chairman, I demand a recorded 
vote.
  The Acting CHAIRMAN. Pursuant to clause 6 of rule XVIII, further 
proceedings on the amendment offered by the gentleman from California 
will be postponed.


       Part B Amendment No. 2, as Modified, Offered by Mr. Petri

  The Acting CHAIRMAN. It is now in order to consider amendment No. 2 
printed in part B of House Report 110-590.
  Mr. PETRI. Madam Chairman, I offer an amendment.
  The Acting CHAIRMAN. The Clerk will designate the amendment.
  The text of the amendment is as follows:

       Part B amendment No. 2 offered by Mr. Petri:
       At the end of section 5 of the bill, add the following new 
     subsection:
       (c) Review of Inducements Limitations.--Within 90 days 
     after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of 
     Education shall review, and as necessary revise, the 
     Department of Education's regulations concerning prohibited 
     guaranty agency inducements to eligible lenders (34 CFR 
     682.401(a)) to ensure that such agency's do not engage in 
     improper inducements in the expansion of operations of the 
     lender-of-last-resort program as authorized by the amendments 
     made by this section. The Secretary shall submit a report on 
     the review and revision required by this subsection to the 
     Committee on Education and Labor of the House of 
     Representatives and the Committee on Health, Education, 
     Labor, and Pensions of the Senate within 180 days after such 
     date of enactment.

  The Acting CHAIRMAN. Pursuant to House Resolution 1107, the gentleman 
from Wisconsin (Mr. Petri) and a Member opposed each will control 5 
minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Wisconsin.
  Mr. PETRI. Madam Chairman, I ask unanimous consent that the amendment 
be modified by the text that I have placed at the desk.
  The Acting CHAIRMAN. The Clerk will report the modification.
  The Clerk read as follows:

       Modification to part B amendment No. 2 offered by Mr. 
     Petri:
       At the end of section 5 of the bill, add the following new 
     subsection:
       (c) Review of Inducements Limitations.--Within 90 days 
     after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of 
     Education shall review, and as necessary revise, the 
     Department of Education's regulations concerning prohibited 
     guaranty agency inducements to eligible lenders (34 CFR 
     682.401(e)) to ensure that such agency's do not engage in 
     improper inducements in the expansion of operations of the 
     lender-of-last-resort program as authorized by the amendments 
     made by this section. The Secretary shall submit a report on 
     the review and revision required by this subsection to the 
     Committee on Education and Labor of the House of 
     Representatives and the Committee on Health, Education, 
     Labor, and Pensions of the Senate within 180 days after such 
     date of enactment.

  The Acting CHAIRMAN (during the reading). Without objection, the 
reading of the modification is dispensed with.
  There was no objection.
  The Acting CHAIRMAN. Without objection, the amendment is modified.
  There was no objection.
  The Acting CHAIRMAN. The gentleman from Wisconsin is recognized for 5 
minutes.
  Mr. PETRI. Thank you, Madam Chairman.
  Under current law, Federal Family Education Loan Program guaranty 
agencies are obligated to serve as lenders of last resort to borrowers 
who have been denied a Federal student loan by two lenders. The 
legislation we are considering today puts in place measures that will 
permit an entire higher education institution, rather than just 
individuals, to participate in the Lender of Last Resort program and 
also clarifies the Secretary of Education's authority to advance 
mandatory funds to guaranty agencies to serve as the lender of last 
resort.
  The amendment I am offering today would simply require the Secretary 
of Education to review and revise as necessary the regulations 
concerning prohibited guaranty agency inducements to ensure that such 
agencies do not engage in improper inducements as lenders of last 
resort.
  Currently, guaranty agencies are provided flexibility from the 
general lender prohibitions regarding inducements and exempted from 
others when they act as lenders of last resort. While this flexibility 
may be necessary, the bill before us would expand the role of guaranty 
agencies acting as lenders of last resort. And it's prudent to take 
another look at these regulations to be sure that students and 
taxpayers continue to be protected.
  I ask my colleagues to vote ``yes'' on this amendment.
  Madam Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. GEORGE MILLER of California. Madam Chairman, I claim the time in 
opposition to the amendment, although I do not expect to oppose the 
amendment.
  The Acting CHAIRMAN. The gentleman from California is recognized for 
5 minutes.
  Mr. GEORGE MILLER of California. Madam Chairman, I commend Mr. Petri 
for this amendment. He addresses an oversight in the legislation in 
making sure that the Secretary has the ability to review and revise the 
regulations concerning prohibited guaranty agency inducements to ensure 
that agencies do not engage in improper inducements. We don't think 
this is a problem, but we had a problem in the past in the rest of the 
program, and we passed on a bipartisan basis, the Student Loan Sunshine 
Act, and I think this amendment is an important part of keeping the 
integrity of that act and the continuity within the student loan 
program so that all participants in that program understand that we 
cannot condone even an appearance of improper relationships. When 
students and families are borrowing money and making sacrifices for 
that money, we want to make sure that they get the best deal available 
and they get the best facts available to them.
  I thank the gentleman for offering the amendment.
  Madam Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. PETRI. Madam Chairman, I yield such time as he may consume to the 
gentleman from California (Mr. McKeon).
  Mr. McKEON. I thank the gentleman for yielding.
  Madam Chairman, I rise in support of this commonsense amendment.
  The Lender of Last Resort program was never intended to serve as a 
bailout for our student loan system as a whole. Rather, it was 
developed as a backstop for individual students on a case-by-case basis 
to be able to access a student loan if they encountered some rare 
circumstance in which they could not borrow through the standard 
channels.

[[Page H2464]]

  I, for one, hope that the broad-based Lender of Last Resort authority 
in this bill will never be used. After all, the goal of this 
legislation is to prevent such a crisis within the loan program before 
it occurs. But I appreciate the steps being taken to ensure that if the 
Lender of Last Resort program ever needs to be deployed on a larger 
scale, we will have the infrastructure and processes in place to allow 
it.
  However, because the program was simply never intended to be used on 
a school-wide basis, we should ensure that in implementing this 
authority, we are not unintentionally subverting current regulations. 
We also want to ensure that a guaranty agency is not unnecessarily 
punished for stepping in as a lender if needed. That is why this 
amendment requests that the Secretary review the regulations with the 
Lender of Last Resort program in mind. This program should be 
implemented in a manner that will be effective, efficient, and in the 
best interest of students.
  I want to thank Representative Petri for offering this amendment, 
which requires the Secretary to ensure that regulations are updated to 
reflect the new responsibilities that would be given to guaranty 
agencies operating as a lender of last resort for entire schools rather 
than individual students.

                              {time}  1130

  This amendment is consistent with our longstanding support for 
greater sunshine, transparency and consumer protections.
  I support this amendment, and I urge its passage.
  Mr. PETRI. I yield back my time.
  The Acting CHAIRMAN. The question is on the amendment offered by the 
gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. Petri), as modified.
  The amendment, as modified, was agreed to.


              Part B Amendment No. 3 Offered by Mr. Castle

  The Acting CHAIRMAN. It is now in order to consider amendment No. 3 
printed in part B of House Report 110-590.
  Mr. CASTLE. Madam Chairman, I offer an amendment.
  The Acting CHAIRMAN. The Clerk will designate the amendment.
  The text of the amendment is as follows:

       Part B amendment No. 3 offered by Mr. Castle:
       At the end of the bill, add the following new section:

     SEC. 9. GAO STUDY ON IMPACT OF INCREASED LOAN LIMITS.

       (a) Study Required.--The Comptroller General shall conduct 
     a study to evaluate the impact of the increase in Federal 
     loan limits provided for in section 2 of this Act and section 
     8005 of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 with respect to the 
     impact on--
       (1) tuition, fees, and room and board at institutions of 
     higher education; and
       (2) private loan borrowing by students and parents for 
     attendance at institutions of higher education.
       (b) Study Components.--The study required under subsection 
     (a) shall be conducted for each major sector of institutions 
     of higher education over a 5-year time period. The report 
     shall specifically analyze the following:
       (1) Whether, on average, tuition, fees, and room and board 
     increase, decrease, or remain unchanged in each such sector 
     after the increases in Federal loan limits take effect.
       (2) Whether the amount of private educational loans taken 
     out by students (and their parents) at institutions in each 
     such sector to pay tuition, fees, and room and board 
     increase, decrease, or remain unchanged.
       (c) Report.--Not later than one year after the date of 
     enactment of this Act, the Comptroller General shall provide 
     an interim report to the Committee on Education and Labor of 
     the House of Representatives and the Committee on Health, 
     Education, Labor, and Pensions of the Senate including the 
     initial results of the study conducted under this section. 
     The Comptroller General shall follow up with such Committees 
     after the third year and the fifth year after such date of 
     enactment.

  The Acting CHAIRMAN. Pursuant to House Resolution 1107, the gentleman 
from Delaware (Mr. Castle) and a Member opposed each will control 5 
minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Delaware.
  Mr. CASTLE. I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  The amendment I have offered with Representative Welch today is meant 
to complement the underlying legislation and help us better utilize the 
Federal student loan program. I am supportive of H.R. 5715, which I 
believe will help prevent instability in the student loan market and 
ensure students have access to funds for higher education. This 
amendment doesn't alter the base bill but can help us learn more about 
rising costs.
  As you know, the committee has actively worked to identify causes of 
rising college costs while tuition rates continue to increase more 
rapidly than household incomes. This rate of increase continues to 
prove to be overly burdensome for both students and families as they 
save and borrow to pay for higher education.
  Adding another layer of complexity is the existing slump in credit 
markets. For this reason, several lending institutions have recently 
announced that soaring lending costs have caused them to decrease 
availability of new loans to American students.
  Today, I am pleased Congress has the opportunity to vote on this 
bipartisan legislation to protect students and families by ensuring 
disruptions in the financial markets do not prevent students from 
pursuing their higher education goals.
  I believe this legislation can help restore investor confidence in 
the marketplace, provide additional flexibility for parents through a 
new, optional grace period for PLUS loan payments until after their 
children graduate, as well as ensure that parents struggling with 
mortgage payments are not automatically denied credit through PLUS 
loans.
  Also, this bill expands loan availability through higher unsubsidized 
Stafford loan limits. This provision, along with a provision passed 
under the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 which increased loan limits on 
federally subsidized loans, enables students to receive more Federal 
funding, reducing reliance on higher cost private loans.
  Although I strongly support these provisions, I believe we have an 
opportunity here to determine what impact, if any, these changes have 
on tuition, fees, and room and board costs and private loan borrowing 
by students and parents.
  The amendment I am offering today does just this. The amendment will 
provide for a review and evaluation by the Government Accountability 
Office, GAO, of these two aspects of higher education.
  Specifically, the GAO study will examine institutions of higher 
education over a 5-year time period to look at whether tuition, fees, 
and room and board increase, decrease, or remain neutral after the 
increases in loan limits take effect, as well as whether the amount of 
private educational loans taken out by students and their families to 
pay tuition, fees, and room and board increase, decrease, or remain 
neutral.
  I urge my colleagues to support this commonsense amendment to shine 
some light on possible causes of the rising cost of higher education 
and also urge support for the base bill to maintain access to the 
Federal student loan program.
  I thank Mr. Welch for working with me on this amendment and for 
speaking in favor of this bill yesterday before the House. And we would 
just like to say that I just think it is so important that we deal with 
the costs of higher education as well as the financing of higher 
education. Hopefully, by this add-on, we will be able to do at least a 
little bit of that.
  I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. GEORGE MILLER of California. Madam Chairman, I rise to claim the 
time in opposition, although I do not expect to oppose the amendment.
  The Acting CHAIRMAN. The gentleman from California is recognized for 
5 minutes.
  Mr. GEORGE MILLER of California. Madam Chairman, Members of the 
House, this is an important amendment.
  This committee, on a bipartisan basis, has struggled with trying to 
get a good handle, if you will, an understandable handle on the cost of 
education and the reasons for the increases in the cost of education, 
as we watched the cost spiral up in higher education much faster than 
the general inflation index. And it is a rising concern in families. As 
their budgets compete with fuel, food and mortgage payments, this 
obviously becomes a very serious matter.
  Congressman McKeon and Congressman Castle have been on this watch

[[Page H2465]]

for many years in this committee trying to help us come to grips with 
this problem and trying to carry on a positive conversation with the 
universities and colleges so that we can better define those costs that 
they control, the costs that they don't control, and certainly the 
actions of the States in their support for the public institutions. I 
think this amendment is very helpful.
  Congressman Welch has spoken to me about this during our 
deliberations of the higher education bill and of the college loan 
reduction bill that we passed last year.
  This is an issue that continues to nag at us. I think providing some 
good guidance to GAO, with their expertise, we have an opportunity to 
really take a good look at a cross-section of institutions, what is 
properly driving the increases in cost and what maybe is improperly 
driving the increase in cost, and those things that can possibly be 
brought under control and be reduced by cooperative actions between the 
institutions, the States, and the Federal Government.
  So I strongly support this amendment, and I want to thank Congressman 
Castle and Congressman Welch for offering this amendment.
  I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. CASTLE. Madam Chairwoman, I want to thank Chairman Miller for his 
kind words.
  I think that all of us, including Mr. McKeon, on whom I will call in 
a moment, would all agree that we need to educate our young people as 
well as we can, and they need to be able to afford it. And anything we 
can do to help in that area is something that we should be doing.
  I yield to the gentleman from California (Mr. McKeon) whatever time 
he may consume.
  Mr. McKEON. Madam Chairman, I thank the gentleman for yielding and 
for his longstanding commitment to addressing the rising costs of 
college.
  This amendment gets to the heart of the concern that many of us have 
harbored for a long time. It takes a hard look at whether or not an 
increase in Federal aid will lead to an increase in college tuition. 
Everyone recognizes that Federal student aid is a good investment. Pell 
Grants, together with campus-based aid programs, Federal student loans 
and other higher education benefits help make a college education 
accessible to every American student.
  With enactment of the Higher Education Act in 1965, these financial 
aid programs truly did make college more affordable. But beginning in 
the eighties and in the decades since, college tuition has skyrocketed. 
Despite our best efforts to keep pace by investing in student aid, 
college is becoming less affordable for many families. Tuition goes up, 
so we increase financial aid. But when we increase financial aid, 
tuition goes up. It's a vicious cycle. And we are losing ground.
  Unfortunately, this pattern has even led some of us to question 
whether an investment in financial aid is a wise one. After all, if 
we're driving tuition increases by, for instance, increasing loan 
limits, we may be doing more harm than good.
  I think there's agreement that this bill will help borrowers by 
increasing unsubsidized borrowing limits. Particularly for borrowers 
who are unable to access higher-cost credit-based private loans, this 
additional Federal loan availability may be the difference between 
enrolling or not. But as we increase that type of financial aid, we 
need to very seriously review the consequences of that action. That's 
why this amendment calls on the Government Accountability Office to 
determine how the increase in borrowing limits impacts tuition.
  I thank Representative Castle along with Representative Welch for 
their leadership on this issue. It's a good amendment. It improves the 
bill. I urge a ``yes'' vote.
  Mr. CASTLE. I yield back the balance of my time.
  The Acting CHAIRMAN. The question is on the amendment offered by the 
gentleman from Delaware (Mr. Castle).
  The amendment was agreed to.


              Part B Amendment No. 4 Offered by Ms. Castor

  The Acting CHAIRMAN. It is now in order to consider amendment No. 4 
printed in part B of House Report 110-590.
  Ms. CASTOR. Madam Chairman, I offer an amendment.
  The Acting CHAIRMAN. The Clerk will designate the amendment.
  The text of the amendment is as follows:

       Part B amendment No. 4 offered by Ms. Castor:
       In section 428B(a)(3)(B) of the Higher Education Act of 
     1965, as amended by section 4 of the bill, insert ``or on 
     medical bill payments'' after ``home mortgage payments''.

  The Acting CHAIRMAN. Pursuant to House Resolution 1107, the 
gentlewoman from Florida (Ms. Castor) and a Member opposed each will 
control 5 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from Florida.
  Ms. CASTOR. Madam Chairman, this amendment ensures that hardworking 
families who are feeling the strain of skyrocketing health care costs 
can still afford to send their children to college. The amendment 
applies to the Federal parent PLUS loans. PLUS loans are the non-need-
based, federally guaranteed, low-interest loans available to parents 
for their children's undergraduate tuition, room and board and other 
expenses.
  Our neighbors are really getting squeezed these days. They are socked 
with the rising cost of housing and health care. And many families are 
very concerned that a college education may be out of reach for their 
children due to these rising costs.
  This amendment allows parents to continue to access low-interest PLUS 
loans even if they have fallen behind on medical bills only up to 180 
days. This extenuating circumstance exemption is identical to the one 
already provided in the bill for mortgage payment delinquencies.
  Housing and health care are the primary sources of financial hardship 
for families. Late mortgage payments and uncollected copayments for 
doctors' visits are among the primary reasons for bad debt. But these 
short-term and temporary extenuating circumstances should not bar 
parents from assisting their children with attending college.
  By adding this amendment to section 4, special rules for PLUS loans, 
we ensure that hardworking families feeling the strain in this economy 
of skyrocketing health care costs can still afford to send their 
children to college.
  I would like to thank Chairman Miller, Ranking Member McKeon, all of 
the members on the Education and Labor Committee and the professional 
staff for their work.
  Mr. GEORGE MILLER of California. Will the gentlewoman yield?
  Ms. CASTOR. I yield to the gentleman from California.
  Mr. GEORGE MILLER of California. I just want to thank the gentlewoman 
from Florida for introducing this amendment. She had talked to me about 
this early on, and it was an oversight. But she has raised the issue 
that for families that have engaged in serious medical encounters, the 
question of what the real bill is becomes a matter of serious 
negotiations that can take over a period of time.
  You get your bill. It says you owe $65,000. And then it says, but the 
real cost was $45,000, and somebody will pay $20,000, and you owe 
whatever is in between. And then you find out that is really not true, 
that was the initial billing, and you back over a period of months. 
Those negotiations, because of an unexpected serious medical encounter 
within a family, should not bar, in these times, those individuals from 
being able to access student loans. It doesn't mean they've lost their 
incomes. It doesn't mean any of that at that point.
  I think it is a very important addition to this legislation as we are 
trying to weave together a support system for families that must rely 
on loans for the education of their children.
  I want to thank you very much for offering this amendment.
  Ms. CASTOR. Madam Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. McKEON. I claim the time in opposition, although I am not 
opposed, Madam Chairman.
  The Acting CHAIRMAN. Without objection, the gentleman from California 
is recognized 5 minutes.
  There was no objection.
  Mr. McKEON. I rise in support of the gentlelady's amendment, and I 
yield myself such time as I may consume.
  The purpose of this bill is to address the unique challenges facing 
students and families in this time of economic

[[Page H2466]]

uncertainty. That is why the bill takes steps to ensure parents are not 
automatically denied a PLUS loan simply because they're struggling with 
the same mortgage troubles facing so many other families in the 
country.
  This amendment is consistent with the spirit of our bill because it 
recognizes that families also may be grappling with medical bills. And 
as the chairman explained, sometimes you are hit with a bill, and that 
shows up as a liability which would put you out of reach of getting 
another loan, and, in fact, you may not have that liability. And until 
that is clarified, you are held in abeyance. And students can't wait.
  So this is a very important amendment that the gentlelady has 
presented. I thank Representative Castor for her amendment. It makes 
the bill better.
  I yield back the balance of my time.
  Ms. CASTOR. I would like to thank, again, the gentlemen from 
California for their work on this legislation and their work on behalf 
of students and parents across this country.
  I urge adoption of the amendment.
  I yield back the balance of my time.
  The Acting CHAIRMAN. The question is on the amendment offered by the 
gentlewoman from Florida (Ms. Castor).
  The amendment was agreed to.
  Mr. GEORGE MILLER of California. Madam Chairman, I move that the 
committee do now rise.
  The motion was agreed to.
  Accordingly, the Committee rose; and the Speaker pro tempore (Ms. 
Castor) having assumed the chair, Mrs. Tauscher, Acting Chairman of the 
Committee of the Whole House on the state of the Union, reported that 
that Committee, having had under consideration the bill (H.R. 5715) to 
ensure continued availability of access to the Federal student loan 
program for students and families, had come to no resolution thereon.

                          ____________________