Reporter’s notebook

Photo: Matthew Dembicki
  • Alexander introduces bill to continue deferral of certain student loan payments
  • Senate bill aims to help students with voting this fall

Alexander introduces bill to continue deferral of certain student loan payments

The chair of the Senate education committee has proposed a bill to allow 43 million student loan borrowers to continue deferring monthly payments after October 1 if they have no income.

In March, Congress deferred student loan payments for six months due to the pandemic. That action will expire at the end of September.

“No monthly payment. In other words, if you have a student loan, your monthly payment is zero if you do not have any income, for whatever reason,” Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee) said Tuesday in introducing the Student Loan Repayment and FAFSA Simplification Act.

When those students start earning income, their monthly payment won’t exceed more than 10 percent of their income after deductions for living expenses, such as housing and food, he said.

The bill also would “finish the job” in simplifying the federal student aid application process, said Alexander, who has long pushed to make it easier to complete the FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Congress has over the years made piecemeal changes to the FAFSA, such as requiring the IRS rather than students and families to provide certain income information to determine eligibility.

“Experts before the Senate education committee have testified that simplifying the FAFSA in this way would remove obstacles that will make it easier for more low-income Americans to attend colleges and would increase the number of Pell grants each year,” Alexander said on Tuesday.

Senate bill aims to help students with voting this fall

A handful of Senate Democrats introduced legislation on Tuesday to help college students exercise their right to vote in the 2020 elections. The pandemic has complicated where and how they will vote this fall.

The National Emergency Student Vote Act would ensure that colleges and universities would have to share resources to help students register to vote, request absentee ballots, and exercise their different options to vote depending on their preference and eligibility. For example, if a college or university requires or encourages students to stay off-campus this fall, it would have to send students absentee ballot applications, along with instructions that they are only for those eligible to vote in the state.

About the Author

Matthew Dembicki
is editor of Community College Daily and serves as publications director for the American Association of Community Colleges.