Note: While this series focuses on law students and legal education, the changes outlined apply to all graduate and professional programs and degrees. There is a slight modification for certain medical-related programs, but that is beyond the scope of these discussions.
As a law student, you have so many things to think about: studying, exams, moot court, journal, and so on. Paying for law school is a priority, but for most students the thought usually is “once I get in, I’ll think about paying after I’ve finished.” For many students, at the end of their legal education, they experience a shock at how much they owe in federal student loans.
Currently, the law mandates that schools conduct entrance and exit counseling about federal loans, but it can be conducted online and can vary in terms of the detail provided to students. The PROSPER Act wants to improve this experience.
The PROSPER Act proposes to require that loan counseling occur every year before loan disbursements are made (compared to once before you enter and once when you graduate). The bill also seeks to improve the content of the counseling by having the information tailored to a borrower’s individual situation. Also, the final exit counseling must include more specific information, such as the borrowers’ final outstanding balances and a projected monthly payment amount.
Managing debt of any size can be difficult, but large debt loads can be extremely burdensome for graduates. Increasing the quality and quantity of loan counseling will better prepare students for repayment and reduce the stress that comes with it.
While this aspect of the PROSPER Act is positive, several other provisions are extremely problematic, and you can do something about it.
The U.S. Senate is currently engaged in a debate about changes to higher education law. You can have a major influence over how changes to higher education will work in the future.
Call your members of Congress to let them know how some changes proposed in the PROSPER Act would negatively impact you and other law students. Let them know that you expect policies that protect borrowers and make education less burdensome and less expensive!
We have resources to help you contact your Senators and Representatives. Check out the student page of our #MakeTheCase Advocacy campaign.