U.S. Senators Klobuchar, Smith Laud Senate Passage of Bipartisan Legislation to Simplify the FAFSA, Improve Access to Affordable Student Loan Repayment Plans, and Support Tribal Colleges and Other Minority-Serving Institutions

WASHINGTON, D.C. [12/06/19]–U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith (D-Minn.) helped bipartisan legislation pass the Senate this week that would simplify the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and eliminate burdensome annual paperwork for federal student loan borrowers enrolled in income-driven repayment plans by automating income recertification, and permanently fund Tribal colleges. 

The Senate-passed Fostering Undergraduate Talent by Unlocking Resources for Education (FUTURE) Act will permanently provide $255 million annually in support for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other minority-serving institutions of higher education, which faced financial uncertainty when their funding lapsed earlier this year. Sens. Klobuchar, Smith and their colleagues have long been fighting to secure this funding and to simplify the FAFSA for the 20 million families who have to fill out the form each year. The Senate-passed bill will streamline the process of enrolling and staying in income-driven repayment programs, by eliminating duplicative paperwork between the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Education, for nearly 8 million student loan borrowers. The FUTURE Act would create the first and only permanent funding program—outside of Pell Grants and student loans—to support students and colleges.

“I’m pleased the FUTURE Act passed the Senate so that tribal colleges, historically black colleges and universities, and other minority-serving institutions of higher education across the country are one step closer to receiving the annual funding they need to keep serving millions of students,” Klobuchar said. “These institutions are critical to our higher education and workforce development systems, and Minnesotans and students nationwide deserve every opportunity to advance their education.”

“I’m so pleased this common sense, bipartisan bill is moving forward.  When I hear from Minnesota colleges and college students, one issue that everyone agrees on is simplifying the FAFSA for the millions of students and families who apply for aid. This measure will also make a real difference for the millions of student loan borrowers who are navigating our outdated and overly-complicated student loan system and trying to access more affordable repayments,” said Sen. Smith, a member of the Senate Education Committee. “I am so glad this bill provides permanent support for such valuable institutions like the Tribal colleges we have in Minnesota. These colleges do important work and I am glad they will have financial certainty going into the future. I look forward to this bill passing the House and being signed into law.”

Sen. Smith is working to help update our nation’s higher education system and supports reauthorizing the Higher Education Act in a comprehensive way. She is pushing to make higher education more affordable and accessible to students and ensure that two-year colleges are better supported and included in our system. She has introduced three bipartisan bills to empower students and families with better information about the costs of college from the initial college search and the application process, to when it comes time to accept financial aid. Sen. Smith strongly supports initiatives to make college textbooks more affordable through open access educational resources, to support student parents with on campus child care, and to allow borrowers to refinance their student loans at lower interest rates.