October 26, 2017 - Issue: Vol. 163, No. 173 — Daily Edition115th Congress (2017 - 2018) - 1st Session
STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS; Congressional Record Vol. 163, No. 173
(Senate - October 26, 2017)
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[Pages S6855-S6856] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS By Mr. REED (for himself, Mr. Durbin, Ms. Warren, and Mr. Murphy): S. 2028. A bill to provide for institutional risk-sharing in the Federal student loan programs; to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. Mr. REED. Mr. President, we all recognize that a postsecondary education is required for most family-sustaining, middle-class jobs, and that an educated workforce is essential to a modern, productive economy. A report by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce found that college-level intensive business services have replaced manufacturing as the largest sector in the U.S. economy, and that while college-educated workers make up only 32 percent of the workforce, they now produce more than 50 percent of the Nation's economic output, up from 13 percent in 1967. A college degree also pays off, as median annual earnings for bachelor's degree holders were $23,000 higher compared to high school graduates in 2014. Yet just as there is growing recognition that postsecondary education is indispensable in the modern economy, families are being required to shoulder growing debt burdens that threaten access to college. According to an analysis of student loan debt by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, between 2004 and 2014, there was an 89 percent increase in the number of student loan borrowers and a 77 percent increase in the average balance size. Today, over 40 million Americans have student loan debt. This is a growing drag on our economy. As student loan debt has grown, young adults have put off buying homes or cars, starting a family, saving for retirement, or launching new businesses. They have literally mortgaged their economic future. We know that student loan borrowers are struggling. A recent Department of Education analysis of outcomes for student loan borrowers who began their studies in 1995-96 and 2003-04 found that only 38 percent of the 1995-96 cohort had paid off their loans without default after 20 years, and only 24 percent after 12 years. For the 2003-04 cohort, only 20 percent had repaid their loans without defaulting after 12 years. Worse, 52 percent of students who attended for-profit institutions had defaulted on a student loan within 12 years. Roughly, 8.5 million borrowers currently have a loan in default. We have seen the costs to students and taxpayers when institutions are not held accountable. Corthinian Colleges and ITT are two examples of institutions that failed their students while benefitting from Federal student aid. Their fraudulent business practices eventually led to their demise, but not before leaving their students and taxpayers on the hook for millions of dollars in student loan debt. We cannot wait until an institution is catastrophically failing its students before taking action. Institutions need greater financial incentives to act before default rates rise. Simply put, we cannot tackle the student loan debt crisis without States and institutions stepping up and taking greater responsibility for college costs and student borrowing. That is why I am pleased to introduce the Protect Student Borrowers Act with Senators Durbin, Warren, and Murphy. Our legislation seeks to ensure there is more skin in the game when it comes to student loan debt by setting stronger market incentives for colleges and universities to provide better and more affordable education to students, which should in turn help put the brakes on rising student loan defaults. The Protect Student Borrowers Act would hold colleges and universities accountable for student loan defaults by requiring them to repay a percentage of defaulted loans. Only institutions that have one- third or more of their students borrow would be included in the bill's risk-sharing requirements based on their cohort default rate. Risk- sharing requirements would kick in when the default rate exceeds 15 percent. As the institution's default rate rises, so too will the institution's risk-share payment. The Protect Student Borrowers Act also provides incentives for institutions to take proactive steps to ease student loan debt burdens and reduce default rates. Colleges and universities can reduce or eliminate their payments if they implement a comprehensive student loan management plan. The Secretary may waive or reduce the payments for institutions whose mission is to serve low-income and minority students, such as community colleges, Historically Black Institutions, or Hispanic-Serving Institutions--provided that they are making progress in their student loan management plans. The risk-sharing payments would be invested in helping struggling borrowers, preventing future default and delinquency, and increasing Pell Grants at institutions that enroll a high percentage of Pell Grant recipients and have low default rates. With the stakes so high for students and taxpayers, it is only fair that institutions bear some of the risk in the student loan program. We need to tackle student loan debt and college affordability from multiple angles. And we need all stakeholders in the system to do their part. With the Protect Student Borrowers Act, we are providing the incentives and resources for institutions to take more responsibility to address college affordability and student loan debt and improve student outcomes. I urge my colleagues to cosponsor this bill and look forward to working with them to include it and other key reforms in the upcoming reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. ______ By Mr. REED (for himself, Mr. Coons, and Mr. Blumenthal): S. 2029. A bill to establish a National and Community Service Administration to carry out the national and volunteer service programs, to expand participation in such programs, and for other purposes, to the Committee on Finance. Mr. REED. Mr. President, as Americans, we take inspiration from those who have answered the call to serve, whether in defense of our Nation abroad or to strengthen our communities at home. This willingness to make common cause with our fellow citizens and serve a purpose greater than ourselves is a hallmark of our Nation. We should ensure that every American who wants to serve has the opportunity to do so. To that end, I am introducing the America's Call to Improving Opportunities Now (ACTION) for National Service Act with Senators Coons and Blumenthal. Our legislation calls for elevating the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) to a cabinet-level agency and supporting up to one million national service positions annually. Since 1994, over one million individuals have served through the AmeriCorps program. Additionally, roughly 245,000 seniors over the age of 55 volunteer annually through the Senior Corps programs. These individuals have addressed critical community needs in education, economic development, health, and many other areas. They have come to their fellow citizens' aid in times of national disaster, including thousands who have been deployed in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. Unfortunately, we have not created the capacity to support all those who want to serve. Rhode Island has embraced service. Providence is one of the top AmeriCorps cities in the nation. Across our State, nearly 4,200 AmeriCorps and Senior Corps volunteers are helping students succeed in school, ensuring veterans get access to the services they need, supporting seniors in their communities, protecting the environment, and addressing other critical needs. With additional resources and support, Rhode Island volunteers could accomplish so much more. We strive to honor those who serve. Even more importantly, we invest in the education and professional development of those who have sacrificed and given so much to our Nation. Developing the talents of our most committed citizens pays life-long dividends. Our investment in the GI Bill not only honors our service members, but also enriches our Nation. Similarly, the education awards for those who have served through CNCS programs have economic impacts beyond the individuals who earn them. Just as we came together on a bipartisan basis to expand and enhance the GI Bill benefits, now is the time to increase the education award for those who serve at [[Page S6856]] home. The ACTION for National Service Act will ensure that national service volunteers who complete two full terms of service earn an education award equivalent to four years of in-State tuition at a public university. Those who are willing to serve should not have to carry a heavy burden of student loan debt to achieve their educational goals. Today, as our communities face challenges in a host of areas, we need more people to participate in national service, and we need more partners to support them. As such, the ACTION for National Service Act will establish a National Service Foundation to encourage private sector and philanthropic investment in expanding national service opportunities. All AmeriCorps members take a pledge to get things done for Americans, to make communities safer, smarter and healthier, and to bring us together. Today, I ask my colleagues to join us in pledging to ensure that all who want to answer the call to serve can do so by cosponsoring the ACTION for National Service Act. ____________________