Peters, Davis Take Bipartisan Action to Address Rising Student Loan Debt Among America’s Workers

February 8, 2019 by TWN Staff
Another theme in the march to City Hall was the heavy burden of student loans, as expressed on these signs.

This week, Congressmen Scott Peters (D-CA) and Rodney Davis (R-IL) led a bipartisan group of 99 Members of Congress to reintroduce H.R. 1043, the Employer Participation in Repayment Act, which would incentivize employers to offer student loan assistance to help their employees pay off student loan debt. The bill would provide financial assistance to Americans struggling to pay off college debt by making employer-provided student loan payments tax exempt up to $5,250 a year—similar to tax exemptions for tuition assistance programs.

“I relied on student loans to get through college, when the cost of higher education was much lower than it is today. Now, the collective debt among people in the U.S. is more than $1.5 trillion dollars, which hurts economic growth,” said Rep. Peters. “Many employers have successfully helped their employees pay down their debt, and encouraging similar programs across the country can move us closer to solving the student debt crisis. Our economy benefits, too, when young Americans begin making investments like buying a home, starting a family, or saving for retirement. I appreciate Rep. Davis’s commitment to tackling this important issue.”

“Student loan debt is now the second highest form of consumer debt and prevents many in the workforce from fully contributing to our economy,” said Rep. Davis.“Student loan debt is such a major issue that some private companies have found that offering a benefit to help employees pay down their student loans has allowed them to recruit and retain young talent. Our bill simply builds on this private-sector approach to addressing the student loan debt crisis in this country by allowing this benefit to be tax-free to both the employee and the employer. This innovative approach to student loan debt that has the potential to be the 401(k) of student loans and help millions of graduates who are struggling with student debt.”

Rep. Peters first introduced this bill with Rep. Davis in 2017, and this year, Reps. Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Elise Stefanik (NY-21), Stephanie Murphy (FL-07), Tom Cole (OK-04), Gwen S. Moore (WI-04), and Jason Smith (MO-08) join as co-leads of the bill. Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and John Thune (R-SD) will introduce an identical bill in the Senate.

Full text of the legislation can be found here.

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