The Washington state Senate passed a bill aimed at expanding consumer protections, particularly in an effort to address student loan debt.
Senate Bill 6029, known as the Student Loan Bill of Rights, passed the Senate Wednesday with a bipartisan vote of 35-13, according to the Senate Democrats. The bill now moves to the House.
“As one of the nearly 800,000 Washingtonians still paying off their college education, 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,” said bill sponsor Sen. Marko Liias, D-Lynnwood. “We’re still learning what the full impact of this kind of debt will be on our state’s economy, but in the meantime, this legislation will ensure that we are putting people first and giving borrowers the information and tools they need.”
If passed and signed into law, the bill would establish a Student Education Loan Advocate to help borrowers, compile data, provide information on student loans and take action on complaints from borrowers.
As of 2016, Washingtonians owed more than $24 billion in student loans, according to the Senate Democrats. About 44 million Americans owe more than $1.48 trillion in student loan debt nationwide.
"Student loan borrowers deserve to be treated fairly by their loan servicers, and this legislation will help ensure that they are," said state Attorney General Bob Ferguson in a statement. "I want to thank Sen. Liias for his leadership on this important issue."
Nationally, one in four student loan borrowers are behind in their payments, according to the Senate Democrats.