Sen. Marko Liias-sponsored student loans bill passes, heading to Inslee

By Brandon Gustafson | Mar 07, 2018
Sen. Marko Liias, D-Mukilteo

A bill aiding student loan borrowers and sponsored by former Mukilteo policy analyst and current state Sen. Marko Liias, D-Mukilteo, passed both the state Senate and House of Representatives and is heading to Gov. Jay Inslee’s desk.

The bill, SB 6029, passed the state House of Representatives with an 87-11 vote on Friday, March 2, and had previously passed the Senate with a vote of 35 to 13.

SB 6029 has been nicknamed the “Student Loan Bill of Rights,” and it will increase oversight for student loan servicers in Washington. The bill also creates a loan advocate who will be responsible for receiving and fielding complaints from students with loans, and will also help borrowers better understand their rights and responsibilities under their respective loans.

“After three years of working on this bill, I am thankful to my colleagues in the Legislature for putting people first, and standing with the hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians who are trying to manage their student loan debt,” said Liias in a newsletter.

“For more and more living wage jobs in our state, higher education has become a basic requirement, but the rising costs of a degree are having a real impact on hard working Washingtonians. This bill is a significant first step, giving borrowers the best tools and information they need to pay off their loans.”

According to the Attorney General’s office, more than 800,000 Washington citizens have some amount of federal student loan debt, and as of 2016, Washingtonians owed $24.4 billion in student loans. In the U.S., 44 million people combined owe more than $1.48 trillion in student loan debt.

Liias, in a Feb. 21 column for The Beacon, said he is one of the 800,000 Washington citizens who are working to repay student loans.

“I know firsthand the balancing act of trying to afford housing, purchase daily necessities, and save money for the future while dealing with student debt, and I want a better path for current and future students,” Liias wrote in the column.

“Too many Washingtonians are struggling to repay more than $24 billion in student loans,” said Attorney General Bob Ferguson in a statement. “The Student Loan Bill of Rights provides borrowers an advocate and requires servicers to treat them fairly.”

Ferguson’s office said they have received hundreds of complaints in the last five years about student loan providers.

The complaints include trouble communicating with servicers, receiving harassing phone calls, errors on credit reports, fraud, and mismatching payments among others.

 

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