Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY-21), Member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, voted in support of H.R. 1635 – the Empowering Students Through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act. This bipartisan legislation seeks to promote an understanding of the cost and requirements of federal loans and Pell Grants through enhanced counseling for recipients of financial aid. Rep. Stefanik successfully included an amendment to this legislation that would provide all students with an explanation of how to seek additional assistance from the financial aid office should they experience a change of financial circumstance.

“As the first member of my immediate family to graduate from college, I know how important higher education is to be able to succeed in a 21st century economy,” said Congresswoman Stefanik. “Students across our district and across our nation are weighed down by unsustainable levels of student debt. I have held almost 50 education visits and roundtables across our district, and when I speak with North Country college students, the costs of higher education continue to be their number one concern. One critical tool to addressing college affordability is financial literacy, and I am pleased to join my colleagues today to pass this important, bipartisan legislation.”

Additionally, in May of 2017, Congresswoman Stefanik’s initiative to expand access to Pell grants was signed into law.

H.R. 1635 - Empowering Students through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act

H.R. 1635 promotes understanding of the cost and requirements of federal loans and Pell Grants through enhanced counseling for recipients of financial aid.

  • H.R. 1635 improves the timing and frequency of loan counseling and ensures that counseling is tailored to circumstances specific to each borrower
  • The bill requires that institutions provide borrowers with comprehensive information, before disbursement of each new loan, on the terms and responsibilities of loans either in person, online, or through the online counseling tool created by the bill
  • This information must include recommendations for students to exhaust all other available assistance, information on proper budgeting for educational expenses, statements on existing and anticipated balances on the loans including projected repayment amounts, and notice that borrowers are not required to accept the full amount of the loan offered
  • In addition, the bill requires borrowers to be provided with state specific information on average income and employment status of individuals based on the level of education achieved and an introduction to resources provided by the Financial Literacy and Education Commission
  • The bill also requires exit counseling that includes the borrower’s outstanding loan balance, anticipated monthly payments under available repayment plans, information on the grace period preceding repayment, and the contact information of the borrower’s loan servicer 
  • Finally, H.R. 1635 requires the Secretary of Education to maintain a consumer-tested, online counseling tool that institutions can use to provide required counseling to their students.
  • Rep. Stefanik’s amendment provides all students with an explanation of how to seek additional assistance from the financial aid office should they experience a change of financial circumstance.

 

###