September 19, 2017

Senators Warren and Murray Applaud Senate Passage of NDAA with Inclusion of Borrower Benefits for Servicemembers

Originally Offered as an Amendment by Murray and Warren to FY2017 NDAA, Provision Will Increase Coordination Between DOD and ED on Military Student Loans

Washington, DC - U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) today applauded the inclusion of a student borrower provision in the FY2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that passed the Senate this week. The legislation would ensure that military student loan borrowers receive the benefits to which they are entitled by law.

Servicemembers are eligible for a number of federal student loan benefits-including zero percent interest on federal student loans while serving in areas of hostilities, income-driven repayment recertification waivers, and cancellation of Perkins Loan debt-but currently many do not receive their benefits because of a lack of communication and coordination between the U.S. Departments of Defense (DOD), Education (ED), and Veterans Affairs (VA), and student loan servicers.

"Too many students struggle to pay back their loans, but it is especially shameful that active duty servicemembers are being forced to pay interest on loans at the very same time they're putting their lives on the line for our country," said Senator Murray. "We have a long way to go to make sure students can graduate from college without mountains of debt, but this is a good step forward to make sure our servicemembers are able climb the ladder of opportunity without massive amounts of student debt dragging them down."

"Veterans and servicemembers should get the student loan benefits that they deserve and that Congress intended them to have - particularly after student loan companies have been found cheating servicing members and illegally hiding these benefits from them," said Senator Warren. "I'm glad the Senate passed this legislation. Making our government work for people who have risked everything for our safety is the least we can do."

The provision, originally offered as an amendment to the FY2017 NDAA by Senators Murray and Warren, was submitted in the bill's report this year by Senator Warren in her role as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. The language directs the Secretary of Defense to work with the Secretary of Education to automate the application for student loan benefits available to military borrowers eligible under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act and other federal laws by using information in existing federal databases. The implementation of this provision will help ensure servicemembers receive the benefits they deserve.