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Reps. Lightbody, Ingram, give sponsor testimony on bill to suspend state student loan payments during the COVID-19 outbreak

Say bill would provide students financial relief during unprecedented time
May 12, 2020
Mary Lightbody News

COLUMBUS— State Rep. Catherine Ingram (D-Cincinnati) today gave sponsor testimony along with joint sponsor Rep. Mary Lightbody (D-Westerville) on House Bill (HB) 603, legislation that would waive interest rates and suspend payments on state student loan programs for up to 60 days. The bill would also require the Chancellor of Education to conduct a study to assist higher education institutions and students during the COVID-19 outbreak.

This bill parallels measures taken by the Office of Federal Student Aid for federally held student loans, and would include the OhioMeansJobs Workforce Development Revolving Loan Program and the Nurse Education Assistance Relief Program.

“This bill allows students that have been faced with unbelievable financial hardship a little relief and assistance during this unprecedented time. The second part of the bill requiring the chancellor to make legislative recommendations for the future is equally important so in the event another crises arises, institutions of Higher Education will be better prepared and understand how to navigate these types of issues in the future,” said Rep. Ingram. “The importance of education remains certain, and HB 603 will provide relief and assistance in these financially uncertain times.”

The bill also contains an emergency clause and would take effect immediately if passed by both chambers of the legislature and signed by the governor.

“The best step we can take now as a legislative body is to consider how current extended unemployment and the pressure of financial obligations impact hardworking, early-career Ohioans. State and federal education loan repayments are part of these obligations. This bill will bring the same relief provided at the federal level to those with education loan debt,” said Rep. Lightbody. “Our recent graduates are in a truly unprecedented time in their lives and are facing an uncertain future. This legislation will help them manage their budget challenges during this health crisis. The bill will also ensure that the Chancellor and our institutions collaborate so that educational opportunities that exist now will continue to exist even in the midst of a long lasting pandemic.”

HB 603 now awaits further consideration.