The U.S. House today unanimously passed a measure, authored by U.S. Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy of Winter Park, Fla., that will empower college students considering transfers to make better-informed decisions about their academic and financial futures, with the goal of helping them graduate with less debt. Murphy introduced the measure as an amendment to H.R. 1635, the Empowering Students Through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act, which requires the U.S. Department of Education to work with colleges and universities to expand financial counseling for students who receive federal loans and grants.
“As a former college instructor, I know that far too many students are struggling with excessive debt that hurts their ability to succeed when they graduate,” said Murphy. “My initiative will empower students to make the best academic and financial decisions for their future, putting fewer students in the position of having transferred only to find out that very few of the credits they worked so hard to earn will count towards their degree. From allowing federal loans to be renegotiated to increasing funding for Pell Grants, I will keep fighting to empower students and to make higher education more affordable for more families.”
Currently, students who take out federal loans to finance their education are limited to borrowing up to a certain aggregate amount. Murphy’s 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 to which they seek to transfer.
In her floor speech, Murphy noted that her amendment would be particularly helpful to students who are enrolled in community or state colleges and are seeking to transfer to a four-year program such as the “DirectConnect to UCF” program at the University of Central Florida. DirectConnect guarantees students admission to UCF 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. UCF has established this transfer program in partnership with six state and community colleges throughout Florida, including Valencia College and Seminole State College in Murphy’s district. Murphy said this is exactly the sort of transfer program her amendment will encourage students to utilize.
This amendment is Murphy’s latest effort to support our nation’s students. Murphy recently announced that, as a result of a bipartisan initiative she led, the State of Florida received $95.8 million in federal funding to reimburse the State and county-based school districts for the additional costs they incurred during the 2017-2018 school year after taking in K-12 students from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands displaced by major hurricanes. This initiative also provided a total of $75 million in funding for colleges and universities around the country that enrolled displaced students. Of this funding, nearly $5 million has been awarded to eight colleges and universities in Florida, including nearly $2 million to the University of Central Florida, to help them defray the unexpected cost of educating new students.
This is the 13th Murphy-led measure to pass the House since she took office in January 2017; an additional 13 measures led by Murphy have already become law.