Representative Sean Casten

Representing the 6th District of Illinois

Representatives Casten, Haaland, Garcia, Krishnamoorthi Introduce Bill to Help College Students Finish Their Degrees

September 26, 2019
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Today, Representatives Sean Casten (IL-06), Deb Haaland (NM-01), Sylvia Garcia (TX-29), and Raja Krishnamoorthi (IL-08) introduced H.R. 4502, the Giving Relief and Dollars to Undergraduates for Adequate Time for Education Act (GRADUATE Act). The bill would eliminate the restriction that students can only take out subsidized student loans over three years for an Associate’s Degree or six years for a Bachelor’s Degree, while maintaining the overall cap on borrowing to prevent students from taking on too much debt. This added flexibility would enable students who encounter obstacles in their education, like needing to withdraw for a semester or transfer, to complete their degrees.

“Far too many students are forced to drop out of college because they can no longer afford it, leaving them with a mountain of debt and no degree to help them pay it back,” said Rep. Casten. “I’m proud to introduce the GRADUATE Act to give many of these students – particularly those who are non-traditional – the flexibility they need to walk across the stage at graduation and build a better life for their family.”

“Every student deserves the opportunity to earn a degree without being saddled with crippling debt, but right now federal student loan bills have unnecessary time limits that force some students to take out loans with higher interest rates and unfair terms,” said Rep. Haaland. “As someone who is still paying off my student loans, I know how much student loans can impact life decisions and economic mobility. Rep. Casten and I are working to address these barriers, so that every student has access to an affordable college education.”

“Allowing more time flexibility for student loan borrowers will support the educational path of many students who need it most, including non-traditional students, students who are parents, transfer students, and those who are battling serious, on-going illnesses,” said Rep. Garcia. “I am a proud original cosponsor of this legislation because, with more flexibility, these students are more likely to graduate with a degree in-hand and thus earn more job prospects.”

“I am proud to be an original cosponsor of the GRADUATE Act, which is a common-sense proposal to eliminate restrictive time-related eligibility requirements for subsidized student loans,” said Rep. Krishnamoorthi. “We must do everything in our power to strengthen educational access and equity, and this legislation accomplishes both of these goals by making it easier for students from low- and middle-income households to receive student financial aid without increasing costs to the American taxpayer. I am proud to be an original cosponsor of this legislation, and I commend Congressman Casten for his leadership.”

“The University of Illinois System supports Rep. Casten’s efforts to expand access for student loan borrowers,” said Barbara Wilson, Executive Vice President for the University of Illinois System. “This legislation will be especially helpful in ensuring affordability for our transfer student population.”

The bill will now go to the Education and Labor Committee for consideration. It has been endorsed by the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, the University of Illinois system, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, the Higher Education Loan Coalition, the Association of American Colleges and Universities, and the HBCU Collective.

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