In the News
CSAJ Partners with Warner on Joint Consolidation Loan Separation Act
June 29, 2017
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WASHINGTON DC – The Center for Survivor Agency and Justice (CSAJ) is proud of their partnership and ongoing efforts to the contribution of Joint Consolidation Loan Separation (JCLs) Act.
The JCL Act is bipartisan, bicameral legislation that would provide much-needed relief to borrowers who previously consolidated their student loan debt with their spouse’s.
From 1993 to 2006, the U.S. Department of Education issued joint consolidation loans to married couples. Congress eliminated the program in 2006, without providing a means of severing existing loans. As a result, there are borrowers nationwide who remain liable for their abusive spouse’s consolidated debt with no legal options for relief.
CSAJ’s Executive Director, Erika Sussman, notes, “Economic security is critical to the long-term safety of domestic violence survivors, and yet, survivors often find themselves constrained by their abusive partner’s unwillingness to cooperate in accessing consumer relief.”
The JCL Act would allow borrowers to submit a joint application to sever their joint consolidation loan or would allow one borrower to submit a separate application in the event that they are experiencing domestic or economic abuse or are unable to reasonably reach or access the loan information of the other borrower.
“The JCL aims to offer survivors the autonomy they need to access economic and physical safety,” Sussman noted.
CSAJ has worked closely with the offices of Senator Mark Warner and Congressman David Price to craft a working definition of “economic abuse” and to ensure that this bill enhances economic protections for domestic violence survivors.
CSAJ’s Legal and Policy Director, Lisalyn Jacobs, said, “If passed, this will be the first definition of economic abuse in federal law. It’s important that it complements the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and reflect that economic abuse is, in fact, a component of domestic violence.”
CSAJ is excited to continue partnering with Warner’s office and other members of Congress to ensure economic and consumer law reflects the lived realities of domestic violence survivors and aligns with already-existing provisions in VAWA.
See a summary of the bill here.
See the complete bill, here.
Copied below is the original press release from Warner’s office:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tue., Jun. 20, 2017
CONTACT: Rachel Cohen (Warner) 202 228 6884
SENS. WARNER, HATCH, WARREN & RUBIO, REPS. PRICE & BYRNE INTRODUCE LEGISLATION PROVIDING RELIEF FOR BORROWERS OF JOINT CONSOLIDATION STUDENT LOANS
~ Bipartisan bill provides remedy for joint consolidation loan quagmire faced by borrowers, including those experiencing domestic or economic abuse ~
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Marco Rubio (R-FL), along with U.S. Reps. David Price (D-NC) and Bradley Byrne (R-AL), introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation that would provide much needed relief to borrowers who previously consolidated their student loan debt with their spouse’s. From 1993 until 2006, the U.S. Department of Education issued joint consolidation loans to married couples. Congress eliminated the program in 2006, but did not provide a means of severing existing loans, even in the event of domestic violence, financial abuse, or an unresponsive partner. As a result, there are borrowers nationwide who remain liable for their abusive or uncommunicative spouse’s consolidated debt with no legal options for relief.
The Joint Consolidation Loan Separation Act would allow two borrowers to submit a joint application to sever their joint consolidation loan, or allow one borrower to submit a separate application in the event that they are experiencing domestic or economic abuse, or are unable to reasonably reach or access the loan information of the other borrower.
“I first learned about this issue when one of my constituents in McLean contacted my office for help with a joint consolidation loan following a divorce. Her case showed us a reality faced by many Americans who continue to be responsible for these loans despite difficult, and sometimes dangerous, situations with their partners,” said Sen. Warner. “Congress should not turn a blind eye to this oversight. This legislation is a commonsense fix that provides victims of economic and physical abuse or those dealing with an unresponsive partner with a mechanism to relieve themselves from unjust financial obligations.”
“I am honored to join my colleagues in working toward fixing a policy oversight that leaves people unduly burdened by an old consolidation program,” said Sen. Hatch. “Over the years, I have met many constituents who were unfairly encumbered with a joint consolidation loan with no path for relief. I gladly support this bill that will give affected individuals a way to relieve themselves from unfair debt.”
“A federal student loan shouldn’t shackle someone to a former spouse—particularly in cases of domestic and economic abuse. Congress made the right call when it ended the joint consolidation loan program in 2006, and I hope Congress will pass this bipartisan bill to help more struggling student loan borrowers move forward with their lives and obtain their financial independence,” said. Sen. Warren.
“This bill is a direct response to my constituent’s experience with a damaging joint consolidation loan. This carefully crafted bill will provide relief to borrowers who are victims of abusive or uncommunicative spouses and allow them to sever their joint financial responsibility. Congressional action to fix this problem is long overdue,” said Rep. Price.
“This is an example of an unintended consequence that Congress must address. I’m pleased we are able to come together in a bipartisan manner with my House and Senate colleagues to put forward a solution. This commonsense legislation offers a simple fix that provides relief to some Americans caught in a difficult situation,” said Rep. Byrne.
“When survivors escape abuse, they should be able to start over without the debts of their abusers. We applaud this bill for creating a solution for those survivors who consolidated loans either in good faith or under duress and are now rebuilding their lives,” said Monica McLaughlin, Director of Public Policy at the National Network to End Domestic Violence.
“The Action Alliance is pleased to support these efforts to provide victims of domestic and economic abuse with student loan relief. This bill will make a difference for the people who need it, and we hope Congress will move swiftly to enact it,” said Kristine Hall, Policy Director at the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance.
“Many survivors of intimate partner violence in North Carolina find themselves burdened with their abuser’s debt after escaping their abusive partner. The North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence applauds that our state representative, David Price, is sponsoring this bill so that survivors may be truly free to rebuild their lives,” said Dana Mangum, Executive Director of the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
“For far too long, many student loan borrowers have been stuck in joint consolidation loans, and this bill ensures that struggling borrowers, including survivors of domestic and economic abuse who previously consolidated their student loan debts, have the opportunity to regain their financial footing. We applaud the sponsors of this bill for their efforts. This bill would benefit many vulnerable student loan borrowers, and we are proud to support it,” said National Consumer Law Center Attorney Joanna Darcus.
The Center for Survivor Agency and Justice envisions a world where all people have equal access to physical safety, economic security, and human dignity. CSAJ develops and promotes advocacy approaches that remove systemic barriers, enhance organizational responses, and improve professional practices to meet the self-defined needs of domestic and sexual violence survivors. Find out more at csaj.org, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.