Senate passes loan transparency bill Wednesday

From staff reports

The Senate passed a bill that makes loan information more transparent for students on Wednesday.

Sen. Barbara Bailey (R), the first sponsor of Bill 5022, wants to help current and aspiring students know the exact costs of taking out student loans for future education. Bill 5022 is also known as the Washington State Loan Transparency Act.

“Without the loan information, it is hard for family and students to plan for the future,” Bailey said. “We need to give students the information they need to make good, sound decisions.”

Student loan debt is an issue on the minds of students, not only in the state of Washington, but across the U.S.

“There is $1.3 trillion in student loan debt at the federal level,” Bailey said. “Buying a house, providing for one’s family – accumulated debt can make it impossible to do these things.”

There are also factors about student loans that people in and out of college are unaware of.

“General student loans do not go away, you can’t claim bankruptcy,” Bailey said. “They always stay with you.”

According to section two of Bill 5022, higher education institutions would have to provide students notice of the total amount of loans they have acquired when they apply for financial aid. The notice must also include an estimate of potential interest from these loans and information on the differences between private and government loans, according to the bill.

On Wednesday, the Senate passed the loan transparency bill unanimously. The bill is now on its way to the House. Bill 5022 must pass the House and be signed by Gov. Jay Inslee before it can be implemented.

According to the bill, colleges and universities should start enforcing the Washington State Loan Transparency Act on July 1, 2018.

For Bailey, this bill is another step towards helping college students get through their education. Bailey also spearheaded the 2015 effort known as the College Affordability Program. This program was passed in the form of Bill 5954, which Inslee signed into law on July 6, 2015, according to Bailey’s website.

“We made huge strides in tackling student debt when the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus cut college tuition,” Bailey said in the Senate coalition newsletter. “Now we can make sure there is more transparency in the real costs of college when students walk across that stage to get their diploma and have to start repaying their loans.”

Bill 5022 co-sponsors include Sen. Christine Rolfes (D), Sen. Marko Liias (D) and Sen. Karen Keiser (D) among others.

Reporting by Tyler Watson