WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Mike Braun and Joe Manchin introduced the bipartisan Streamlining More Accessible, Reliable and Transparent Educational Resources for Debt Act (SMARTER Debt Act). The legislation would establish an interactive, online dashboard at the U.S. Department of Education to improve public access to information about existing student loan forgiveness and repayment programs that aim to attract borrowers to public service and highly needed professions. The dashboard would display operating programs, eligibility requirements, application information, and submission deadlines so borrowers and prospective students can see in real time what options are available to them.
“Students should have access to all the resources available that can help them make informed decisions about their student loans. This bipartisan legislation would improve access to information about student loan forgiveness and repayment programs that are available to those interested in public service and high demand professions.”—Sen. Braun
“I’m proud to introduce this important bipartisan legislation so students looking to enter public service know what student loan resources are available to them. We must ensure students have the most accessible resources they need to make responsible, informed decision about student debt, and this interactive dashboard will increase transparency on the types of student loan forgiveness and repayment programs that are available. I encourage my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this commonsense, bipartisan legislation.”—Sen. Manchin
While there are already more than 50 existing student loan repayment and forgiveness programs aimed at attracting individuals to vital service jobs, such as teachers, health care workers, and public servants, these opportunities are spread across multiple federal agencies, making it difficult to track what’s available and when these programs are operating. Because these opportunities are spread out across agencies and are not easily searchable on the Department of Education’s website, students looking for opportunities to have their loans forgiven in exchange for public service have a difficult time navigating their options.
The SMARTER Debt Act would:
Direct the Department of Education to establish an interactive online dashboard to improve public access to information about existing loan forgiveness and repayment programs that.
Provide important information to students and prospective students so they know what student loan forgiveness and loan repayment programs are available and what could be available.
Allow students to search the dashboard by key categories for which programs are available, including by career field, program of study, loan type, and by location.
The full text of the SMARTER Debt Act is available here.