Last week the U.S. Senate passed the Restoring American Financial Stabiliy Act of 2010 (S. 3217). The Act, with a vote of 59-39, is expected to strengthen regulations governing financial institutions and prevent the risky behavior that led to a near-collapse of the economy in recent years.
The debate on the Act in recent weeks included several proposed amendments that would benefit student borrowers and higher education institutions.
In a review of the bill it appears that none of the amendments proposed by higher education organizations were included in the final version passed by the Senate. This included proposals to include language that would move the Direct Loan Program under the asupices of a new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, allow private loans to be discharged in bankruptcy, provide an exemption for Title VII and Title VIII from new Truth in Lending Act disclosures, and require school certification on private student loans.
It appears that the only higher education related language to be amended to the bill targeted the “swipe fees” that banks charge merchants to process credit- and debit-card payments. The fees average 1-2 percent of a purchase. The added language would result in lower fees paid by colleges when students use credit and debit cards to pay for tuition and books.
The Senate’s Act must now be reconciled with the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009 (H.R. 4173), passed by the House last year through conference committee.