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Bonamici Leads 70 Lawmakers in Calling on Sec. DeVos to Assist Student Loan Borrowers Affected by Shutdown

January 15, 2019
Press Release

 

WASHINGTON, DC [1/15/19] – Today Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici, a leader on the House Education and Labor Committee, led 70 of her colleagues in calling on Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to support student loan borrowers who are affected by the partial government shutdown.

 

More than 800,000 federal employees missed a paycheck last week because of the partial government shutdown, which is in its 25th day.

 

“… Many federal employees do not know how they will pay their rent or mortgage, put food on the table or gas in their car, and pay for childcare,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter. “And importantly, many will be unable to make payments on their student loans. It is unacceptable and unreasonable that the Trump Administration expects everyday Americans who are struggling to make ends meet to bear the burden of this shutdown.”

 

The monthly average student loan payment is $393. According to the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), their federal members take home an average of $500 per week. Federal employees may be unaware of options to reduce their monthly payments and are at risk of experiencing a break in qualifying monthly payments for student loan forgiveness.

 

“This unnecessary shutdown is creating needless financial hardship for too many families, and it may push borrowers deeper into student debt,” the lawmakers continued. “We urge the Department of Education to do all it can to direct student loan servicers to proactively reach out to federal employees to provide information about how to manage their student loan debt during the Trump government shutdown.”

 

“These hardworking federal employees want to meet their student loan obligations - even during this shutdown,” the lawmakers wrote. “They deserve the support of the Department of Education and student loan servicers to do so.”

 

In addition to Bonamici, the letter was signed by: Reps.  Maxine Waters, Elijah Cummings, James P. McGovern, Marcia L. Fudge, Fredrica Wilson, Adriano Espaillat, Lisa Blunt Rochester, Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan, Mark DeSaulnier, Joe Courtney, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, Al Lawson, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Jimmy Gomez, Jimmy Panetta, Steve Cohen, Darren Soto, Zoe Lofgren, Peter Welch, Joyce Beatty, Filemon Vela, Eleanor H. Norton, Derek Kilmer, Katherine Clark, Joe Kennedy, Annie Kuster, Debbie Dingell, Grace Meng, Earl Blumenauer , Mary Gay Scanlon, Jamie Raskin, Ted Lieu, Peter DeFazio, Alcee L. Hastings, Haley M. Stevens, Raul Grijalva, José E. Serrano, Xochitl Torres Small, Gilbert R. Cisneros Jr., Jerry McNerney, Scott H. Peters, Jesús “Chuy” García, Seth Moulton, Ruben Gallego, Pramila Jayapal, A. Donald McEachin, Dina Titus, Cheri Bustos, Salud Carbajal, Joseph D. Morelle, Colin Allred, Henry C. "Hank" Johnson Jr., Kendra Horn, Jan Schakowsky, John Garamendi, Brendan Boyle, Albio Sires, John Yarmuth, Betty McCollum, Jahana Hayes, Chellie Pingree, Donald S. Beyer Jr., Dave Loebsack, William R. Keating, Chrissy Houlahan, Katie Porter, Lucille Roybal-Allard, Andy Levin, and Lauren Underwood.

 

The full text of the letter is available here and below.

 

 

 January 15, 2019

 

 

The Honorable Betsy DeVos

Secretary

United States Department of Education

400 Maryland Avenue, SW

Washington, D.C. 20202

 

Dear Secretary DeVos:

 

We write today to express deep concern about the potential negative effect of President Trump’s government shutdown on student loan borrowers.

 

At present, there are approximately 420,000 federal employees who are working without pay, and about 400,000 federal employees who are experiencing furlough. As a result, many federal employees do not know how they will pay their rent or mortgage, put food on the table or gas in their car, and pay for childcare. And importantly, many will be unable to make payments on their student loans. It is unacceptable and unreasonable that the Trump Administration expects everyday Americans who are struggling to make ends meet to bear the burden of this shutdown.

 

According to the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), the average take-home pay for federal employees who are AFGE members is $500 a week. The average monthly student loan payment is $393, which means that many furloughed federal employees and those working without pay will struggle to make their monthly student loan payment. In addition, many federal employees who qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program are likely to experience a temporary break in their qualifying monthly payments counting toward loan forgiveness. Further, federal employees may be unaware of their repayment options to reduce their monthly payments, including remaining in an income-driven repayment plan based on their changed circumstances and uncertain financial future.

 

This unnecessary shutdown is creating needless financial hardship for too many families, and it may push borrowers deeper into student debt. We urge the Department of Education to do all it can to direct student loan servicers to proactively reach out to federal employees to provide information about how to manage their student loan debt during the Trump government shutdown.

 

These hardworking federal employees want to meet their student loan obligations - even during this shutdown. They deserve the support of the Department of Education and student loan servicers to do so. Thank you for your attention to this matter.

 

Sincerely,

 

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