Tuesday, February 03, 2009

U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings Takes Steps to Ensure Students Continue to Have Uninterrupted Access to Federal Student Aid

The U.S. Department of Education is ensuring students and their families continue to have uninterrupted and timely access to Federal student loans by taking steps to maintain stability in student lending through both the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) and Direct Loan Program.

"We recognize that the current economic situation has created real financial challenges for students and their families, who are increasingly concerned about how they can secure loans to help cover college costs," said Secretary Spellings. "I want to reassure students and their families that Federal student aid - both grants and loans - remains available to eligible students."

As credit markets for student loans continue to tighten, there is a growing concern among schools, students and lenders about the availability of funds for the 2009-10 academic year. With lenders currently committing loan volume to schools for the upcoming academic year, the Department of Education, in coordination with the Treasury Department and the Office of Management and Budget, is using the authority of the extended Ensuring Continued Access to Student Loans Act.

"The unprecedented credit market conditions throughout the past several months have clearly impacted the student loan market. These necessary measures will allow for more liquidity in this market and should help to prevent the financial turmoil from hurting opportunities for our students," said Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson, Jr.

The Department of Education will replicate for the 2009-10 academic year the successful loan purchase and participation interest programs announced in May 2008 for the 2008-09 school year. To date, these programs have supported nearly 50 percent - or $8.7 billion - of the FFELP loans disbursed thus far this year.

In addition, the Administration intends to provide liquidity support to one or more conforming Asset-Backed Commercial Paper (ABCP) conduits to purchase and provide longer-term financing for FFELP loans. While details of this conduit are forthcoming, it is intended that all fully-disbursed non-consolidation FFELP loans awarded between October 1, 2003 and July 1, 2009 will be eligible for inclusion. Loans in the conduit will be financed with new issues of Asset Backed Commercial Paper. Support for the program will come from the Department of Education, which will enter into a forward commitment to purchase eligible student loans from the conduit in the future at a prearranged price. These programs will protect taxpayers by ensuring there is no net cost to the Federal government.

The Administration is working diligently on these programs so that students and their families can be assured that Federal funds will continue to be available to help pay for higher education and ensure that our students will be better prepared to pursue their dreams in today's competitive global economy.

For more information on these programs, please view the fact sheet at http://www.ed.gov/students/college/aid/ecasla-facts.html.