Lawmakers debate best way to help student loan borrowers during pandemic

National

As tens of millions of Americans lose their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic, many of them have an added burden: unpaid student loans.  

Lawmakers want to provide relief to educational loan borrowers who have lost significant income or have high medical expenses due to COVID.   

Now one Rhode Island senator has introduced a bill that would allow borrowers to erase the debt. 

“COVID obviously has made a lot of people sick and so it has caused a lot of medical expense,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, (D) Rhode Island. 

Whitehouse says Americans bankrupted by COVID medical bills should not have to worry about repaying their student loans. 

“My bill tries to remedy those problems at least partially,” said Whitehouse. 

Whitehouse has introduced the Medical Bankruptcy Fairness Act  

“So this intersects basically two issues:  the issue of medical bankruptcy and the issue of student loans so that those who have a medical bankruptcy can undo their student loans.,” said Whitehouse. 

With negotiations on-going for the next COVID relief package, Democrats want to provide relief to student loan borrowers and Republicans are on-board, to a point. 

“If you don’t have a job you can’t pay a loan,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) South Carolina.  

Sen. Lindsey Graham says he’s willing to help by delaying, not forgiving, loan payments while people are unemployed and struggling during this crisis… 

“They’re not working as much as they used to. They’ve had healthcare bills they didn’t have before, so I’m a practical guy. I want to help people,” Graham said.  

“The idea would be to allow them to delay the payments that are coming in,” said Sen. Mike Rounds, (R) South Dakota.  

The CARES Act passed in March paused student loan payments until the end of September. Rounds says he believes the next package should include more relief like that. 

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