Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield myself as much time as I may consume.
I rise in support of my amendment to H.R. 1635, the Empowering Students Through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act. This amendment would ensure that student borrowers who are considering whether to transfer to another academic institution are provided with the guidance necessary to make fully-informed decisions related to their student loan debt and academic credit transfers.
Currently, students who take out federal loans to finance their education are limited to borrowing up to a certain aggregate amount, with the precise amount depending on the type of loan they have, their financial status, and whether they are enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program.
My amendment would ensure that a student borrower who wishes to transfer to another institution is provided with a clear and concise explanation that the loans he or she has received up to that point will count towards their aggregate loan limit, regardless of whether all the course credits they have completed are accepted by the school they seek to transfer to.
Students will benefit from learning this important information because it will help them more effectively plan their educational and financial future.
Students who know the facts before they transfer will be in a better position to decide whether transferring is in fact the right decision for them. Those students who do decide to transfer will be more likely to carefully research all their transfer options, and they will likely give preference to those schools that will accept the credits they earned at their current school and that otherwise provide students with a smooth and seamless transition process. Fewer students will be in the position of having transferred—only to find out that very few of the credits they worked so hard to earn, and paid for, will count towards their degree.
I believe my amendment will be particularly helpful to students who are enrolled in community or state colleges and are seeking to transfer to a four-year program.
Many students who live in my central Florida district are in precisely this position. Notably, the University of Central Florida—which I am proud to represent—has established a strong transfer program in partnership with six state and community colleges throughout Florida, including Valencia College and Seminole State College in my district.
The program is called “DirectConnect to UCF.” In general, it guarantees students admission if they have earned an associate degree from a partner college, and the credits earned by the student at the partner college typically transfer to UCF. This is exactly the sort of transfer program that my amendment will encourage students to utilize.
Collectively, Americans owe a crushing $1.4 trillion dollars in student debt. As someone who is still paying off her own student loans, I know there is far more we can and should do to ensure that students are not saddled with excessive debt and are prepared to succeed after graduation. Nevertheless, I am encouraged that we are taking a step in the right direction today by considering this important legislation. By increasing transparency in the student loan process as it relates to credit transfers, we will provide our students with the information they need to make the best educational and financial decisions for themselves.
I thank the Rules Committee for allowing the House to consider this amendment, and I respectfully ask my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support it.