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Letter to Senator Durbin in Support of his Fairness for Struggling Students Act

January 23, 2013

Dear Senator Durbin:

On behalf of the more than three million members of the National Education Association, we would like to express our support for the Fairness for Struggling Students Act. We thank you for your leadership on this very important issue.

As you know, in 2005, Congress passed a bankruptcy law that created special protections for private student lenders. As a result, it is virtually impossible to discharge private student loans in bankruptcy.

Private student loans are one of the riskiest, most expensive ways to pay for college. Like credit cards, they typically have variable interest rates that are higher for those who can least afford them. However, private student loans are treated much more harshly in bankruptcy than credit cards and other comparable types of debt. Unlike federal student loans, there are few consumer protections available for private student loans, leaving some students with insurmountable debt for the rest of their lives. With student loan debt outpacing credit card debt in America, it is long past time to reverse these unfair bankruptcy laws.

Your legislation will restore some fairness in student lending by allowing financially distressed borrowers of private student loans to discharge those loans in bankruptcy, just as other types of private debt can be discharged. In so doing, it will enable the bankruptcy system to work as a safety net so people can get the education they want with the assurance that they will be protected should their finances come under strain by layoffs, accidents, or other unforeseen life events.

We thank you again for your leadership on this important issue and look forward to working with you toward passage of the Fairness for Struggling Students Act.

Sincerely,

Mary Kusler
Director of Government Relations