Durbin, Duckworth Introduce Servicemember Student Loan Affordability Act

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) today introduced the Servicemember Student Loan Affordability Act to fix a provision in the federal law that unintentionally discourages members of the military from consolidating or refinancing pre-service student loans and taking full advantage of all student benefits provided to servicemembers.

“Loan refinancing and consolidation is a practical, effective way to manage student loan debt,” said Durbin.  “Congress did not intend to force servicemembers to give up the Servicemember Civil Relief Act’s six percent interest rate cap today for a chance to earn Public Service Loan Forgiveness in the future.  The bill I introduced with Senator Duckworth is a common-sense fix that will empower servicemembers to use every tool that Congress intended for them to better manage their student loan debt.”

“Our servicemen and women are willing to give their lives for this country, and it is imperative that we support them in every way possible,” said Duckworth. “This commonsense legislation will allow servicemembers to take advantage of all the educational assistance available to them. I am proud to work with Senator Durbin to make higher education more affordable for our nation’s heroes.” 

The Durbin-Duckworth Servicemember Student Loan Affordability Act would allow pre-service private or federal student loan debt to be consolidated or refinanced, while retaining the six percent interest rate cap on student loans included in the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA).  Current law unintentionally creates an unfair choice between these two benefits, both of which were intended by Congress to help servicemembers. This legislation enables servicemembers with Federal Family Education Loans or Perkins student loans to enroll in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program while they are serving and still take advantage of the six percent rate cap under SCRA.

This bill has support from the American Legion, Association of United States Navy, the National Guard Association of the United States, the Retired Enlisted Association, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Veteran Education Success, the Institute of College Access and Success, and the National Education Association.