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Biss’ student loan bill of rights gets new life

biss 031517 2SPRINGFIELD – Illinois college students who borrow money to pay for their education could be better protected from predatory lenders with the help of a student loan bill of rights, a measure sponsored by Senate Daniel Biss (D-Evanston).

The Illinois Senate reaffirmed its support for the effort Wednesday when it voted 37-19 to override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s August veto of Senate Bill 1351.

“Student debt is a real problem in Illinois,” Biss said. “This legislation takes a significant step toward tackling the problem, and it will make life better for student borrowers throughout the state, especially as the federal government continues to shirk its responsibility to people who are working hard to have a better future.”

This groundbreaking measure would help to ensure students and their families receive clear information about the money they borrow for higher education and how their loans are serviced.

For example, the legislation requires loan services to provide specialized employees to assist borrowers with questions about loan payments, explain repayment options and evaluate a borrowers financial situation to determine which payment plan is appropriate.

It requires loan servicers to provide borrowers with accurate information on billing statements and properly process payments, and bars them from charging unreasonable fees. And in addition to numerous other steps to help borrowers, it creates a special ombudsman in the office of the Illinois attorney general to assist borrowers with student loans.

Senator Daniel Biss

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9th Senate District

Years served: 2011 - 2012 (House); 2013 - Present (Senate)

Associated Representatives: Laura Fine; Robyn Gabel

Committee assignments: Education; Environment and Conservation; Executive Appointments; Human Services; Labor (Chairperson); Revenue.

Biography: Full-time legislator; former University of Chicago math professor; doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and undergraduate degree from Harvard University. Served one term in the House before his election to the Senate. Resides in Evanston with his wife, Karin, and their children, Elliot and Theodore. Co-chair of a bipartisan pensions working group in the House and chair of the Digital Divide Elimination Advisory Committee.