Advocacy Briefs: ACP Endorses Medical Education Affordability Act.
On March 28, 2007, ACP endorsed the "Medical Education Affordability Act" (S.1066). The bill, introduced by Senator Christopher Dodd (Democrat–Connecticut) on March 29 and co-sponsored by Senators John Kerry (Democrat–Massachusetts), Richard Durbin (Democrat–Illinois), and Russ Feingold (Democrat–Wisconsin), would allow physicians to defer repayment of their student loans while they complete their medical training. Currently, the Economic Hardship Deferment allows physicians that meet specific debt-to-income ratios to defer repayment of federal educational loans for up to three years. S.1066 would extend this deferment to include the length of "post graduate medical or dental internship, residency, or fellowship programs." This letter can be found online.
House Passes Student Loan Oversight Bill
On May 9, 2007, the U.S. House of Delegates overwhelmingly passed (414-3) the "Student Loan Sunshine Act" (H.R.890) to establish conflict of interest requirements for lenders and institutions of higher education. Among other provisions, the Sunshine Act would:
- Require institutions to develop and administer a code of conduct for their financial aid offices;
- Require institutions to disclose all relationships with lenders;
- Ban all gifts, opportunity pools, and revenue-sharing between lenders and institutions;
- Prohibit financial aid administrators' participation on lender advisory boards (other college officials may participate without compensation or reimbursement of expenses);
- Require "preferred lender lists" to include at least 3 unaffiliated lenders and the process that was used to develop the list; and
- Prohibit staffing of campus financial aid offices by lenders or their employees, excluding services provided in exit interviews for borrowers.
Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Chair Edward Kennedy (Democrat–Massachusetts) introduced his version of the "Student Loan Sunshine Act" (S. 486) on February 1, 2007. Senator Kennedy plans to address this issue as part of the broader Higher Education Act reauthorization.
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