bennett 041421SPRINGFIELD – Senate Higher Education Committee Chair Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) moved a measure through the Senate Higher Education Committee Tuesday to help students make more informed choices about the loans they take out to pay for college and establish new accountability standards for private loan companies.

“The reward for higher education should not be a lifetime of debt,” Bennett said. “Students and families should be informed if they qualify for federal loans before they turn to private loans and the higher interest rates and fewer repayment options that go with them.”

Bennett introduced the Know Before You Owe Private Education Loan Act, which requires private lenders to confirm with a potential borrower’s school that the student’s tuition, housing and other costs are not covered by other sources of financial aid. Additionally, the legislation requires colleges and universities to notify students about their federal loan eligibility before certifying private loans.

Bennett worked closely with the Illinois attorney general’s office to craft the legislation.

“Private student loans are more expensive and more difficult for borrowers to repay. As we have seen during the pandemic, the relief that comes with federal student loans is particularly critical during an economic downturn,” Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul said. “This legislation ensures that students and families are aware of the benefits of federal loans and whether they are eligible – before they take out private loans.”

“The Know Before You Owe initiative will ensure that students and their families know about their federal loan options before they take on private loans,” Bennett said. “I am proud to work with Attorney General Raoul on this initiative to give Illinois students more control over their financial futures.”

Senate Bill 2291 cleared the Senate Higher Education Committee and will now go before the full Senate for a vote.