Congresswoman Proposes Ed Department Offer Loan Assistance to Sexual Assault Victims

September 14, 2016

In a letter to the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights Tuesday, Representative Jackie Speier, a California Democrat, urged OCR to work with the Office of Federal Student Aid to help victims of campus sexual assault with their student loans.

"Over and over, I have heard from survivors who were forced to withdraw from courses or, in the worst cases, drop out of school completely due to an appalling lack of academic support or accommodation," Speier wrote. "Many students who qualify for refunds in these cases struggle to receive reimbursement. Some have been forced to take out additional loans for mental health services and tutoring, which are supposed to be provided by schools free of charge."

Speier proposed that the department allow victims to temporarily postpone student loan payments under the "poor health and other acceptable reasons" justifications; clarify that colleges must offer student loan counseling to victims; support access to reimbursement through OCR's resolution agreements with institutions; and update OCR's case processing manual to improve survivors' access to information about student loan assistance.

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