Warren, 16 Senators Request Increased Funding for Office of Federal Student Aid
Office of Federal Student Aid Oversees $1.6 Trillion Program Serving Nearly 44 Million
Failing to Provide Critical Funding to FSA Could Delay Implementation of Important Programs, Harming Students and Families
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) led 16 senators in sending a letter to the Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies requesting the committee provide $2.7 billion in Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 to fund the Office of Federal Student Aid, consistent with the President’s budget. This funding is particularly important given FSA’s budget for FY 2023 was flat-funded from the previous year, undermining the office’s ability to implement critical programs that provide eligible students with resources to pursue higher education and training programs and receive relief from crushing student debt burdens.
“FSA’s responsibilities have increased to protect students and borrowers, but its federal funding has remained stagnant. The lack of adequate resources creates more barriers for students to continue their education,” wrote the senators. “We believe this funding request is needed to provide FSA with the resources it needs to fulfill its goal of ensuring that all eligible students and families can access federal student grants, loans, and work-study funds to pursue education and training beyond high school.”
FSA is the largest provider of student financial aid in the nation, overseeing a $1.6 trillion program that serves nearly 44 million people, and is currently expected to make necessary improvements to loan servicing. Additional funding is needed to make major improvements to student loan servicing, including a Congressionally mandated overhaul of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), that expands access to federal aid and addresses longstanding concerns over the complexity of the application process, ensuring more students have access to federal financial aid.
Last year’s flat funding of FSA could jeopardize the implementation of significant reforms such as making long-overdue improvements to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, increasing accountability efforts to root out predatory programs, introducing a new and transformative income-driven repayment plan (IDR), completing a review of millions of borrower records to determine if borrowers have been improperly denied relief due to longstanding flaws of the IDR program, and implementing President Biden’s historic student debt cancellation plan.
Failing to fully fund FSA could lead to severe implementation delays and a lack of resources to support borrowers transition back to repayment.
Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), and Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) joined Senator Warren on the letter.
Senator Warren is an outspoken advocate on student debt relief, and is leading the fight to hold loan servicers and for-profit colleges accountable to fix the broken student loan system:
- In February 2023, Senator Warren released a new report based on her investigation into how efforts by Republican officials and special interests to block the President’s plan to cancel up to $20,000 in federal student loan debt would affect Americans.
- In October 2022, Senator Warren and Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) visited communities across Massachusetts to celebrate the Biden administration’s student debt cancellation plan and help residents sign up for student loan relief.
- In October 2022, Senator Warren called on the Department of Education to hold for-profit colleges executives accountable for scamming students out of a quality education and loading them up with student debt.
- In September 2022, Senator Warren and Representative Pressley sent a letter to federal student loan servicers to inquire about the steps they are taking to ensure borrowers are receiving timely information about President Biden’s debt cancellation plan.
- In September 2022, Senator Warren sent a letter to the Department of Justice (DOJ) urging DOJ to issue and implement updated student debt bankruptcy guidance without delay following the Biden-Harris administration’s historic decision to cancel up to $20,000 in student debt for up to 43 million borrowers and overhaul the student loan system.
- In August 2022, Senator Warren recognized the Department of Education for protecting students and taxpayers by taking action to revoke ACICS status as an accreditor.
- Senator Warren, along with Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Senator Brown and Representatives Pramila Jaypal (D-Wash.) and Mark Takano (D-Calif.), urged Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, urging the Department of Education (ED) to swiftly discharge the loans of borrowers defrauded by predatory for-profit colleges and universities, including those operated by Corinthian College.
- Senator Warren, along with Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Representatives Jayapal, Pressley, Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), and Katie Porter (D-Calif.) led more than 80 colleagues in a bicameral letter to the Department of Education calling for it to release the memo outlining the Biden administration’s legal authority to cancel federal student loan debt and immediately cancel up to $50,000 of debt for Federal student loan borrowers.
- Senator Warren, along with Senate Majority Leader Schumer and Representative Pressley released new analysis showing that resuming student loan payments would strip $85 billion every year from the economy.
- Senator Warren, along with Senators Van Hollen, Blumenthal, and Smith sent letters to four federal loan servicers, requesting information on their plans to support borrowers when student loan payments resume.
- Senator Warren, along with Senators Brown, Blumenthal, Smith, and Van Hollen sent a letter to Maximus, the company that is assuming Navient’s federal student loans servicing contract, questioning its troubling history and seeking assurances that borrowers will receive appropriate services and protections during the transition.
- Senator Warren, along with Senators Brown, Blumenthal, Smith, Van Hollen, Booker, Sanders, Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), and Markey sent a letter to the Department of Education urging Secretary Cardona to use his authority to automatically remove all student loan borrowers in default.
- Senator Warren, along with Senators Van Hollen, Blumenthal, Brown, Smith, Markey, and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) sent letters to the heads of Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, Granite State, and Navient calling on them to correct past errors with borrowers’ accounts and address growing concerns over their preparedness to transfer millions of borrowers to new servicers.
- Senator Warren, along with Senator Markey and Representative Pressley, released a report that detailed the ongoing failures of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program for public servants in Massachusetts.
- At a hearing in July 2021, Senator Warren pushed for borrower protections after a major student loan servicing shakeup.
- In July 2021, Senator Warren released a statement regarding the end of the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency's (PHEAA) contract servicing student loans with the Department of Education.
- In June 24, 2021, Senators Warren and John Kennedy (R-La.) called on PHEAA CEO to address concerns about false and misleading statements made during a subcommittee hearing on student loans, which was chaired by Senator Warren.
- In May 2021, Senator Warren led her colleagues in sending a letter requesting information about the steps the Department of Education and the Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) are taking to help transition millions of federal student loan borrowers back into repayment ahead of the scheduled end to the pause on student loan payments and interest in September.
- In April 2021, Senators Warren and Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) led a group of colleagues in a letter to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona urging the Department of Education to take swift action to automatically remove all federally-held student loan borrowers from default.
- In April 2021, at her first hearing as chair of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee's Subcommittee on Economic Policy, Senator Warren called out PHEAA for its mismanagement of the Public Student Loan Forgiveness Program.
- In April 2021, Senator Warren also questioned Jack Remondi, CEO of Navient, on the company's long history of abusive and misleading behavior towards borrowers and their profiting off the broken student loan system.
- In March 2021, Senators Warren and Menendez applauded the passage of their Student Loan Tax Relief Act as part of the American Rescue Plan.
- In December 2020, Senator Warren introduced the Consumer Bankruptcy Reform Act and in 2019, co-led the Student Borrower Bankruptcy Relief Act with Senator Durbin to make student loans dischargeable through bankruptcy.
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