We wrote in a previous post about key comments submitted to the Department of Education for the upcoming negotiated rulemaking sessions. Many groups raised important issues. NCLC’s testimony focused on relief for financially distressed borrowers. Others commented on a wide range of issues, mainly aimed at streamlining complex or duplicative rules and simplifying the financial assistance and repaymentprocess for borrowers.
Below is a non-exhaustive list of important ideas:
- Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA) submitted a number of important recommendations, including limiting collection fees at the time of loan consolidation and broadening relief under false certification and closed school discharges. This included a recommendation to create an electronic storage and retrieval system to be available to decision makers to search previously submitted false certification applications. Currently, according to LAFLA, the Department “…appears to treat each false certification discharge request independently as if it was the first claim ever made regarding the school rather than utilizing or comparing the allegations in the false certification request to information derived from other claims against the same school or in similar situations.”
2. Margaret Reiter recommended that the false certifications regulations be amended to clarify that the Department cannot override a court’s determination on issues such as improper administration of ability to benefit tests.
3. Student Loan Servicing Alliance, National Council of Higher Education Loan Programs (NCHELP) and others recommended that married borrowers applying for income contingent repayment (ICR) should not have to submit proof of spouse’s income if they file taxes separately.
4. NCHELP recommended that borrowers with both FFEL and Direct Loans be allowed to combine the total loan balance in order to meet the $30,000 minimum requirement for extended repayment. Currently, a borrower that has both FFEL and Direct loans must have more than $30,000 in each program to qualify for an extended repayment plan.