Text: S.3281 — 111th Congress (2009-2010)All Information (Except Text)

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Introduced in Senate (04/29/2010)


111th CONGRESS
2d Session
S. 3281


To expand student loan forgiveness, to provide loan repayment assistance, and for other purposes.


IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

April 29, 2010

Mr. Specter introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions


A BILL

To expand student loan forgiveness, to provide loan repayment assistance, and for other purposes.

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

SECTION 1. Short title; table of contents.

(a) Short title.—This Act may be cited as the “Student Loan Forgiveness and Repayment Assistance Act of 2010”.

(b) Table of contents.—The table of contents of this Act is the following:


Sec. 1. Short title; table of contents.

Sec. 2. Findings.

Sec. 101. Income-based repayment plan.

Sec. 201. Public service loan forgiveness program.

Sec. 301. Lowering of interest rates for health professions.

Sec. 401. Enhancing opportunities for minorities.

Sec. 501. Assistant Secretary for the evaluation and promotion of accessibility and affordability in higher education.

SEC. 2. Findings.

Congress finds that, according to information compiled by Campus Progress—

(1) total Federal student debt in the United States, as of 2008, is more than $617,000,000,000, according to the Department of Education;

(2) in 2008, the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance estimated that between 1,700,000 to 3,200,0000 baccalaureate degrees will be lost this decade among academically qualified students because of financial barriers;

(3) the average student today graduates college with student debt 25 percent higher than that of college graduates a decade ago, and enters the job market where the average job pays college graduates less than the job would have in 2000;

(4) the average college senior graduated with $4,100 in credit card debt in 2008, according to a study by Sallie Mae, Inc., and $23,200 in student loans, according to the Institute for College Access and Success;

(5) according to the Institute for College Access and Success, almost 7 in 10 college graduates are burdened with educational debt;

(6) according to a 2006 report by the United States Public Interest Research Group, student debt is outpacing the starting salaries of jobs in teaching and social work, making it virtually impossible for many debt-laden college graduates to pursue careers in fields where they are desperately needed;

(7) according to the same report, nearly 14 of all graduates from public colleges, and almost 4 in 10 graduates from private colleges, have levels of student debt that would become unmanageable on the average salary of a starting teacher;

(8) a 2002 report by the Nellie Mae Corporation found that students delay major life decisions as a result of increased student debt—38 percent of college graduates delay buying their first house because of debt, 14 percent delay marriage, and 21 percent delay having children;

(9) according to a 2006 report by the Education Trust, the highest achieving low-income high school graduates go to college at nearly the same rate as the lowest achieving students from wealthy families; and

(10) more than 60 percent of African-American, Hispanic, Native American, and Asian students face a gap between their expected family contribution, grants, and nonprivate loans and the cost of their education, according to the 2007–2008 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study.

SEC. 101. Income-based repayment plan.

Section 493C(e) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1098e(e)) is amended—

(1) in paragraph (1), by striking “10 percent” and inserting “7 percent”; and

(2) in paragraph (2), by striking “20 years” and inserting “15 years”.

SEC. 201. Public service loan forgiveness program.

Section 455(m) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1087e(m)) is amended—

(1) in paragraph (1)—

(A) in subparagraph (A), by striking “120”; and

(B) in subparagraph (B)(ii), by striking “120”; and

(2) by striking paragraph (2) and inserting the following:

“(2) LOAN CANCELLATION AMOUNT.—

“(A) IN GENERAL.—In the case of a borrower described in paragraph (1) who has made monthly payments as described in paragraph (1), the Secretary shall cancel the obligation to repay 5 percent of the balance of principal and interest due as of the time of such cancellation, on the eligible Federal Direct Loans made to the borrower under this part after the borrower has made each of the following number of monthly payments:

“(i) After 60 monthly payments.

“(ii) After 72 monthly payments.

“(iii) After 84 monthly payments.

“(iv) After 96 monthly payments.

“(v) After 108 monthly payments.

“(B) REMAINING BALANCE CANCELLED.—In the case of a borrower described in paragraph (1) who has made 120 monthly payments as described in paragraph (1), the Secretary shall cancel the obligation to repay the balance of principal and interest due as of the time of such cancellation, on the eligible Federal Direct Loans made to the borrower under this part.”.

SEC. 301. Lowering of interest rates for health professions.

(a) Health professions student loans.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—Section 705(b) of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 292d(b)) is amended by striking “the average of” and all that follows and inserting “3.5 percent.”.

(2) PHYSICIAN ASSISTANTS.—Section 719(1) of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 292o(1)) is amended by inserting before the period the following: “, or an entity providing programs for the training of physician assistants”.

(b) Primary care loans.—Section 722(e) of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 292r(e)) is amended by striking “5 percent” and inserting “3.5 percent”.

(c) Nursing loan program.—Section 836(b)(5) of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 297b(b)(5)) is amended by striking “5 percent” and inserting “3.5 percent”.

SEC. 401. Enhancing opportunities for minorities.

(a) Program authorized.—From amounts appropriated under this section, the Secretary of Education shall carry out a pilot program of awarding grants, on a competitive basis, to eligible institutions to enable the eligible institutions to enhance opportunities for students attending such institutions.

(b) Eligible institutions.—In this section, the term “eligible institution” has the meaning given the term in section 371(a) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1067q(a)).

(c) Applications.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—An eligible institution desiring a grant under this section shall submit an application to the Secretary of Education at such time, in such manner, and containing such information as the Secretary may require.

(2) CONTENTS.—The application described in paragraph (1) shall include an outline of the eligible institution's plan for the grant that takes into consideration—

(A) increasing the eligible institution's educational program capacity for degree-granting, certificate-granting, adult education, and noncredit programs;

(B) increasing the eligible institution's student graduation rates; and

(C) how to achieve the purposes of the grant without increasing the costs to students attending the eligible institution.

(d) Authorization of appropriations.—There is authorized to be appropriated to carry out this section $100,000,000 for each of the fiscal years 2011 through 2015.

SEC. 501. Assistant Secretary for the evaluation and promotion of accessibility and affordability in higher education.

Section 202 of the Department of Education Organization Act (20 U.S.C. 3412) is amended by adding at the end the following:

“(j) Assistant Secretary for the evaluation and promotion of accessibility and affordability in higher education.—There shall be in the Department an Assistant Secretary for the Evaluation and Promotion of Accessibility and Affordability in Higher Education, who shall be appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. The Assistant Secretary shall—

“(1) evaluate periodically what has been done thus far and what further actions should still be taken, to increase—

“(A) accessibility to higher education;

“(B) higher education opportunities for underserved minorities;

“(C) capacity to educate more medical personnel; and

“(D) debt forgiveness to encourage graduates of institutions of higher education to pursue public service;

“(2) evaluate periodically the impact of the Healthcare and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (Public Law 111–152) in order to determine the effectiveness of the educational grants and financial assistance programs modified by such Act;

“(3) promote higher education, including higher education accessibility, affordability, and completion options, to prospective and current students of institutions of higher education; and

“(4) not later than 30 days after the end of each quarter of a fiscal year, submit to the appropriate committees of Congress a report that—

“(A) describes current trends regarding the accessibility and affordability of higher education in the United States, including the impact of the educational grants and financial assistance programs established under or modified by the Student Loan Forgiveness and Repayment Assistance Act of 2010; and

“(B) includes the Assistant Secretary’s recommendations to Congress regarding how to increase the accessibility and affordability of higher education.”.