Bennet, Udall Push for Immediate Student Loan Relief for Active-Duty Soldiers

Join Bipartisan Group to Introduce New Legislation Prohibiting Interest from Accruing on Student Loans for Active- Duty Service Members

Bill Would Save Average Service Member Between $1,183 - $1,479

Michael Bennet and Mark Udall, U.S. Senators for Colorado, today joined a bipartisan group of senators in introducing legislation that provides immediate student loan debt relief to active-duty service soldiers and members of the National Guard. Bennet, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Pension and Labor Committee (HELP), vowed to push for the bill in the committee.

Currently, service members who are serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and abroad are charged interest on their federal student loans while they are defending the country overseas. The bill filed today would prohibit interest from accruing on direct student loans for all service members on active duty for up to 60 months. This would save the average service member between $1,183 and $1,479 over the course of a 12- to 15-month activation period.

Last year, Congress passed legislation authored by Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN) that prevented interest from accruing on loans originated after October 2008. The bill provided important relief to service members who intended to take out loans in the future, but it did not address those who currently had loan debt. This legislation corrects that problem and provides interest relief to all active duty service members with eligible loans.

Bennet and Udall joined Senators Bayh, Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Joe Lieberman (ID-CT), James Inhofe (R-OK), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Ben Nelson (D-NE), Max Baucus (D-MT), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Arlen Specter (D-PA), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) as original cosponsors of the legislation. It will now go to the Senate HELP committee.

"When our service men and women are sent to war, they shouldn't shoulder the added burden of worrying about school loans or how much more they are going to have to pay when they come home," said Bennet, a member of the HELP committee. "Preventing interest from accruing on federal student loans for our soldiers fighting overseas is a smart, common-sense policy that will make life a little easier for the men and women who put their personal lives on hold to protect our country. I will work hard to move this legislation as the HELP committee takes up student lending reform."

"Our service members put their lives on hold when they leave to fight for our safety - putting their student loan interest on hold would offer them a measure of relief in return," said Senator Udall, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. "It's the right thing to do as a thanks for their sacrifice, and I hope my colleagues will join this effort so we can pass this bill as soon as possible."