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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

‘Bill of rights’ for student borrowers passes Washingon House

OLYMPIA – College students will have more protection from predatory loan practices under legislation passed Friday by the House.

Advocates say the “Student Loan Bill of Rights” will extend existing consumer loan protections to students, where currently no such regulation exists. It would prohibit practices that misrepresent a person’s loan situation, or encourage loan decision that could be harmful to the student.

It would also create a student loan advocate to provide assistance to students who need help with their loans or are filing complaints.

At a public hearing in January, Ashley Hardin of Seattle said she was “blindsided” by $1,600 monthly student loan payments after graduating college. She said students need someone who can inform and guide them through the the complicated loan process.

“Student borrowers are in dire need of an advocate,” she said. “One that is transparent about our rights and responsibilities as borrows, as well as the rights and responsibilities of our lenders.”

Matthew Morrow, director of student affairs with the Associated Students of Washington State University, said many students at the school work multiple jobs trying to pay for college.

“(The bill) would allow students to get the necessary information and resources they need to meet those financial obligations,” he said.

The bill does not provide debt forgiveness, he said. “We’re just asking to get a fair deal when we make that honest effort to pay down our loans.”

The bill was sent to Gov. Jay Inslee on a 87-11 vote.