22 July 2009

Student loan forgiveness for those called to active duty in U.S. armed forces is one step closer to becoming law

Yesterday the House Education and Labor Committee approved an amendment by Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-Calif.) which would provide student loan forgiveness for servicemembers when they are called up for duty while attending college. Davis' amendment was added to the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, HR 3221, which was passed by voice vote 30-17.

If a student is called up for active service in the U.S. armed forces they must often withdraw from college in the middle of a quarter without receiving credit for their work. However, often times these student soldiers would then later incur double debt for courses they will need to take again because of their service to the nation.

"These men and women have enough to think about without also worrying about whether they will have to pay additional student loans on the courses they have not completed," said Davis in a press release. "My amendment is fundamentally about fairness - service members who are activated while in school should not be charged for coursework for which they did not receive academic credit."

If enacted, the amendment directs the Secretary of Education to assume the federal student loan obligations that servicemembers incur when they are activated in the middle of an academic term. Davis provides an example: a servicemember expects to receive $5,000 (USD) in federal student loans for the semester. If activated after completing only 50 percent of the semester, that servicemember may still be charged $2,500 (USD) in student loans, even without receiving the academic credit.

The bill now heads to the full House of Representatives for consideration. It is unclear whether it will go as a stand alone bill or be placed upon the suspension calendar.

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