Marco Rubio Backs Higher Education Financing Reform

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is backing U.S. Sen. Todd Young’s, R-Ind., proposal to reform a financial tool to help students pursuing higher education.

On Tuesday, Rubio is backing Young’s “ISA Student Protection Act.” From the other side of the aisle, U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., and U.S. Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., are also backing the proposal.

Rubio’s office offered some insights on the bill and why he was championing it.

“Income Share Agreements (ISAs) are an innovative and affordable way for students to finance their education based on their future income without going into debt,” Rubio’s office noted. “Under an ISA, a student agrees to pay a percentage of their income over a given time period in exchange for payments for tuition and expenses from nongovernmental sources. When the agreed timeframe ends, the student stops payments regardless of whether the initial amount was paid back to the ISA funder. This bipartisan bill would provide the necessary framework for ISAs and create consumer protections to improve their effectiveness – protecting students and ensuring their success in the workforce.”

The bill exempts lower income Americans from making payments towards their ISAs and cap the terms ISA providers can offer. The legislation also ensures ISA funders offer more transparency and information to students.

“It’s getting harder and harder for American families to afford the rising costs of college, and graduates are often forced to run up tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt,” Rubio said.  “I am proud to re-introduce this innovative legislation to empower students to leverage their future income today and access the financial resources of businesses, individuals, and nonprofit organizations in order to achieve their higher education goals.”

“Far too often I hear of students and their families being forced to endure financial hardship in exchange for a quality education. Government-provided student loan debt continues to skyrocket while the average household income decreases,” Young said. “That’s why I have introduced a bill to offer students from all backgrounds with a private – or philanthropically – funded, debt-free financing option catered to their own income needs through the use of Income Share Agreements (ISAs). If we strengthen the framework of ISAs, we can help colleges and career and technical schools prepare Americans for rewarding careers, all without any additional cost to taxpayers.”

“Income-Share Agreements are a promising way to finance postsecondary education and an attractive alternative to private student loans and PLUS loans. ISAs are also proving to be uniquely responsive to the needs of students who are ineligible for existing federal student aid programs—including DACA recipients, some justice-involved individuals, and those attending short-term training programs,” Warner said. “There are students across the country who are already benefiting from ISAs and deserve the safeguards and certainty the ISA Student Protection Act would provide, including protections during periods of low earnings, dischargeability in bankruptcy, and oversight authority by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. I’m pleased to be introducing this legislation with a bipartisan group of my colleagues and look forward to working to ensure ISAs continue expanding in a student-focused way.”

“Despite $1.6 trillion in U.S. student loan debt, millions of well-paying jobs continue to go unfilled. In an economy in need of more investment in postsecondary education and training opportunities, Income Share Agreements are a promising tool. Most importantly, ISAs protect students from the risk of onerous debt and elevate programs that guide students to well-paying jobs. The ISA Student Protection Act will allow the innovation of ISAs to proceed safely and with more government oversight, to the benefit of American students and families,” Coons said.

The Aspen Institute’s Future of Work Initiative, Colorado Mountain College (CMC), JFF, Marymount University, the Progressive Policy Institute, the San Diego Workforce Partnership, Purdue University and the University of Utah are all behind the proposal.

Young’s bill was sent to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee. So far, there is no companion measure over in the U.S. House.


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