WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Angus King (I-Maine) this week cosponsored bipartisan legislation to help Americans tackle their student loan debt. The Employer Participation in Repayment Act would allow employers to contribute up to $5,250 tax-free to their employees’ student loans – providing employees with much-needed relief and employers with a unique tool to attract and retain talented employees.
“Young people seeking higher education should be able to follow their dreams after graduation, but today the vast majority are shouldered with excessive and seemingly insurmountable debt. A diploma should not be a certificate of anxiety, but one of hope for the future,” Senator King said. “That’s why we must look for innovative new ways to ease the burden of student loans and help the next generation join the workforce and succeed. This bipartisan legislation will support American students and help employers recruit and retain driven young people – a win-win.”
“Education plays a vital role in opening the doors of opportunity to all Americans, but the rising cost of a college education threatens to close those doors to many families across the country,” said Senator Collins. “This bipartisan bill would help alleviate the financial strain of student loans by encouraging more employers to provide student loan repayment benefits to their employees.”
According to reports, one in four Americans have student loans, and student debt in the U.S. reached $1.5 trillion in 2018. Student debt is a significant financial burden that influences the way the American workforce saves and spends, and thus stifles the entire economy. The Employer Participation in Repayment Act would update an existing federal program so that it works better for employees living with the reality of burdensome student loan debt. The Employer Education Assistance Program currently only provides assistance for workers who are seeking additional education. It does not extend to individuals who have already incurred student loan debt during their undergraduate or graduate studies.
In addition to Senators Collins and King, the Employer Participation in Repayment Act is supported by Senators Mark Warner (D-Va.), John Thune (R-S.D.) Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ari.).
The legislation has also been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Reps. Scott Peters and (D-CA) and Rodney Davis (R-IL) and has support from numerous educational organizations.