Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswomen Deborah Ross (NC-02), Nikema Williams (GA-05), Haley Stevens (MI-11), and Alma Adams (NC-12) introduced the Clean Slate through Repayment Act. This critical legislation will remove records of default from student borrowers’ credit histories once they repay their loans.

“Our nation is facing an unprecedented student debt crisis, and many young Americans are burdened with an adverse credit history as a result,” said Congresswoman Ross. “Students should not be punished for seeking an education, but the high cost of learning has prevented many young people from pursuing their dreams. I’m proud to join with my colleagues to introduce the Clean Slate through Repayment Act to ensure that Americans who repay their loans and get out of default do not feel the negative impacts of student debt for years to come.”

“I understand the struggle to live with massive student debt because I’m living it,” said Congresswoman Williams. “When you pay off your student loans after default, you should have a clean slate. The Clean Slate Through Repayment Act helps borrowers truly get a second chance. As I continue to push for student debt cancellation, I’m proud to stand with Congresswoman Ross to bring the promise of America within reach again for everyone who is burdened by student debt.”

“I am proud to be a part of this comprehensive effort to deliver lifechanging relief for our federal student loan borrowers,” said Congresswoman Stevens. “Americans who pursue an education and make a good faith effort to pay off their loans deserve a fair chance to reestablish their credit and participate in our economy. This legislation empowers borrowers to get back on the right track and escape the lasting shadow of their student loan debt once and for all.”

“I am proud to be joining my colleagues in introducing this bill,” said Congresswoman Adams. “Student debt continues to remain a serious consideration for those aspiring to pursue higher education. It shouldn’t have to be that way. Education is empowerment, and we should continue to pursue policies which empower students.”

47.9 million Americans are impacted by student debt totaling $1.7 trillion. Student borrowers deserve a second chance to move forward after a defaulted loan, particularly when they have made earnest efforts to get back on track financially through loan repayment. Successfully repaying a defaulted loan does not currently remove adverse credit history related to the previously defaulted loan. The Clean Slate through Repayment Act addresses this issue by requiring the Department of Education to request that a consumer reporting agency remove any record of default after loan repayment, giving borrowers a clean slate and the chance to move forward.

Last month, the Congresswomen introduced the Student Loan Rehabilitation and Credit Score Improvement Act, which would require the Department of Education to request that all negative credit reporting related to a previously defaulted student loan is removed from a borrower’s credit history once the borrower has completed student loan rehabilitation.

The Clean Slate through Repayment Act is endorsed by the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association, National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, the Institute for College Access and Success, National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, North Carolina Independent Colleges & Universities, and the American Council on Education.

“Student loan borrowers can be weighed down by a long-term ‘debt sentence,’” said American Federation of Teachers President, Randi Weingarten. “And for anyone who falls behind in their loan payments, that payment history can have a negative ripple effect on their financial lives. The Clean Slate Through Repayment Act recognizes that borrowers deserve just that—the chance to wipe the slate clean on student loan default once they repay the loan, so that borrowers can get back on the right track, preventing student loan debt from being a lifelong burden.”

“Student loans, combined with scholarships, grants, and need-based aid, are a critical component of financial aid packages to help make college possible for an increasing number of low-income and first-generation college students. These packages of support are making it possible for students to attend college who would never have been able to afford to do so in the past,” said A. Hope Williams, president of North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities (NCICU). “NCICU thanks the sponsors for this bill which NCICU strongly supports. Financial challenges can occur at any time and for a variety of reasons, so that borrowers may not always be able to make their payments as planned. The passage of this bill will ensure that borrowers who have overcome those challenges and paid off their loans will be able to have the earlier default removed from their credit history - clearing the path for greater economic opportunity.” 

Cosponsors of the legislation include Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Jim Costa (CA-16), Diana DeGette (CO-01), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Kathy Manning (NC-06), Lucy McBath (GA-06), Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40), and Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-05).