Oklahoma Senate passes bill protecting student borrowers

Oklahoma Politics

About 42 million Americans currently have federal student loans.

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma State Senate passed the Oklahoma Student Borrower’s Bill of Rights Act, which protects student borrowers seeking to further their education.

Senate Bill 261, written by Sen. John Michael Montgomery, R-Lawton, directs the state’s attorney general to write a statement which would include an “Oklahoma Student Borrower’s Bill of Rights,” as well as plain and clear language prohibiting student loan servicers from doing anything that misleads, deceives or defrauds student borrowers, according to a Senate Communications Division news release.

The measure also prohibits loan servicers from making false statements or excluding material facts when providing reports to government agencies.

“For many of our students, taking out loan debt is the only choice they have to further their education, whether it be in college or trade school,” Montgomery said. “Adding protections for our student borrowers to help them understand their repayment options and navigate loan servicing is important because it adds transparency to a process that will undoubtedly impact years of a student’s life.”

The news release cited a 2018 Student Debt Crisis study, which found that more than one in three student loan borrowers had trouble assessing information on their loans and repayment status. Sixty percent of borrowers received unclear guidance about their repayment status, according to the study.

“According to the National Council of State Legislatures, the average borrower that attended a public college or university owes about $25,000 after graduation,” Montgomery said. “Even further, nearly 10 percent of borrowers have student loan balances of more than $80,000. The bottom line is, these students need to know what they are getting into prior to taking out these loans, and the Student Borrower’s Bill of Rights is a great first step to assist with transparency in this process.”

The bill next goes to the State House of Representatives.

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