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- Democratic lawmakers want to give sexual assault survivors the opportunity to defer their payments.
- The bill, introduced on Wednesday, would give the option to defer payments for three years.
- A similar bill was introduced last year, but did not pass.
Survivors of sexual assault, harassment, and stalking may one day have the ability to defer their student loan payments for up to three years if their ability to come to school was affected as a result.
Rep. Madeleine Dean, Sen. John Fetterman, Rep. Ayanna Pressley, and eight other Democrats introduced HR 5588 on Wednesday — days before student loan payments are set to resume on October 1.
In his endorsement of the Student Loan Deferment for Sex-Based Harassment Survivors Act, Fetterman brought up his time away from the Senate earlier this year when he received treatment for his clinical depression.
“Getting help allowed me to be the father and husband I want to be, and the Senator that Pennsylvania deserves,” Fetterman said in a press release. “I strongly encourage anyone who is struggling or in crisis to get help and extending that opportunity to our students is absolutely the right thing to do. This bill will make it possible for students to focus on their mental health without the burden of student loan payments.”
The bill would also change the definition of sexual violence to include “sex-based harassment” and allow more survivors to access the program.
Nine national groups, including the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network and the YWCA, have endorsed the bill so far. A previous version of the bill was introduced last summer but did not move past the House.
As the October deadline for federal student loan payments looms, Democratic lawmakers are looking for ways to soften the blow for borrowers. Last week, six Democrats, including Senator Elizabeth Warren called out student loan servicer MOHELA for its slow processing of documents that could force certain borrowers to pay back loans they don’t need to. Meanwhile, the Biden administration has been taking steps to correct student loans for various borrowers being charged too much.
Additionally, President Joe Biden is still attempting to implement widespread student debt forgiveness after the Supreme Court struck down his first plan to wipe out up to $20,000 of debt per borrower.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider.