Text: S.2460 — 113th Congress (2013-2014)All Information (Except Text)

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Introduced in Senate (06/10/2014)


113th CONGRESS
2d Session
S. 2460


To amend the Truth in Lending Act and the Higher Education Act of 1965 to require additional disclosures and protections for students and cosigners with respect to student loans, and for other purposes.


IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

June 10, 2014

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


A BILL

To amend the Truth in Lending Act and the Higher Education Act of 1965 to require additional disclosures and protections for students and cosigners with respect to student loans, 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; Findings.

(a) Short title.—This Act may be cited as the “Christopher Bryski Student Loan Protection Act” or “Christopher’s Law”.

(b) Findings.—Congress finds the following:

(1) According to the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (hereafter referred to as the “CFPB”) Student Loan Ombudsman:

(A) “The CFPB received more than 2,300 private student loan complaints and more than 1,300 debt collection complaints related to student loans between October 1, 2013, and March 31, 2014.”.

(B) “Co-signers complain that information about discharge or alternative arrangements in the case of death of the primary borrower is not readily available and that decisions are made on a case-by-case basis, giving co-signers little understanding of how the process works, or if they will be successful.”.

(C) “The complaints and input received by the CFPB resemble many of the same issues experienced by mortgage borrowers, such as improper application of payments, untimeliness in error resolution, and inability to contact appropriate personnel in times of hardship.”.

(D) “The difference between federal and private student loans in periods of disability was not well-understood.”.

(2) An estimated 1,700,000 people sustain a traumatic brain injury each year, with older adolescents aged 15 to 19 years old more likely to sustain a traumatic brain injury than other age groups.

(3) It has been estimated that the annual incidence of spinal cord injury, not including those who die at the scene of an accident, is approximately 40 cases per 1,000,000 people in the United States or approximately 12,000 new cases each year. These injuries can lead to permanent disability or loss of movement and can prohibit the victim from engaging in any substantial gainful activity.

(4) According to the CFPB, more than 90 percent of new private student loans are co-signed.

SEC. 2. Additional student loan protections.

(a) In general.—Section 140 of the Truth in Lending Act (15 U.S.C. 1650) is amended by adding at the end the following:

“(g) Additional protections relating to death or disability of borrower or cosigner of a private education loan.—

“(1) CLEAR AND CONSPICUOUS DESCRIPTION OF BORROWER’S AND COSIGNER’S OBLIGATION.—In the case of any private educational lender who extends a private education loan, the lender shall clearly and conspicuously describe, in writing, the cosigner’s obligations with respect to the loan, including the effect the death, disability, or inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity of the borrower or any cosigner would have on any such obligation, in language that the Bureau determines would give a reasonable person a reasonable understanding of the obligation being assumed by becoming a cosigner for the loan.

“(2) DESIGNATION OF INDIVIDUAL TO ACT ON BEHALF OF THE BORROWER.—In the case of any private educational lender who extends a private education loan, the lender shall require the borrower to designate an individual to have the legal authority to act on behalf of the borrower with respect to the private education loan in the event of the borrower’s death, disability, or inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity.

“(3) COUNSELING.—In the case of any private educational lender who extends a private education loan, the lender shall ensure that the borrower, and any cosigner, receives comprehensive information on the terms and conditions of the loan and of the responsibilities the borrower has with respect to such loan, including the information described under section 485(l)(2) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1092(l)(2)).

“(4) MODEL FORM.—The Bureau shall publish a model form under section 105 for describing a cosigner’s obligation for purposes of paragraph (1).

“(5) DEFINITION OF DEATH, DISABILITY, OR INABILITY TO ENGAGE IN ANY SUBSTANTIAL GAINFUL ACTIVITY.—For the purposes of this subsection with respect to a borrower or cosigner, the term ‘death, disability, or inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity’—

“(A) means any condition described in section 437(a) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1087(a)); and

“(B) shall be interpreted by the Bureau in such a manner as to conform with the regulations prescribed by the Secretary of Education under section 437(a) of such Act (20 U.S.C. 1087(a)) to the fullest extent practicable, including safeguards to prevent fraud and abuse.”.

(b) Definitions.—Subsection (a) of section 140 of the Truth in Lending Act (15 U.S.C. 1650(a)) is amended—

(1) by redesignating paragraphs (1) through (8) as paragraphs (2) through (9), respectively; and

(2) by inserting before paragraph (2) (as redesignated by paragraph (1)) the following:

“(1) the term ‘cosigner’—

“(A) means any individual who is liable for the obligation of another without compensation, regardless of how designated in the contract or instrument;

“(B) includes any person whose signature is requested as condition to grant credit or to forbear on collection; and

“(C) does not include a spouse of an individual referred to in subparagraph (A) whose signature is needed to perfect the security interest in the loan;”.

(c) Rulemaking.—Not later than the end of the 1-year period following the date of the enactment of this Act, the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection shall issue regulations to carry out section 140(g) of the Truth in Lending Act.

SEC. 3. Federal student loans.

(a) Counseling information.—Section 485(l)(2) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1092(l)(2)) is amended by adding at the end the following:

“(L) Information on the conditions required to discharge the loan due to the death, disability, or inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity of the borrower in accordance with section 437(a), and an explanation that, in the case of a private education loan made through a private educational lender (as such terms are defined in section 140 of the Truth in Lending Act (15 U.S.C. 1650)), the borrower, the borrower’s estate, and any cosigner of such a private education loan may be obligated to repay the full amount of the loan, regardless of the death or disability of the borrower or any other condition described in section 437(a).

“(M) Any repayment, refinance, deferment, forbearance, or forgiveness opportunities available to the borrower, or cosigner, in the event of either individual’s death, disability, or inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity.

“(N) The effect that the death, disability, or inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity of the borrower would have on the obligations of the borrower and any cosigner of the loan.”.

(b) Designation of individual To act on behalf of the borrower.—Section 484(a)(4) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1091(a)(4)) is amended—

(1) in subparagraph (A), by striking “and” after the semicolon;

(2) in subparagraph (B), by inserting “and” after the semicolon; and

(3) by adding at the end the following new subparagraph:

“(C) a designation by such student of an individual who shall have the legal authority to act on behalf of the student with respect to any loan to the student under this title in the event of the student’s death, disability, or inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity;”.


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