Enacting the student opportunity, assistance, and relief act (Orwall, Pollet, Appleton)

Establishes the student opportunity, assistance, and
relief act to address student education loan debt, student education loan debt counselors, the repeal of statutes regarding professional license or certificate suspensions, private student loan default, and exemptions for bank account and wage garnishments.

The definition of "borrower" was modified to mean a resident of the State of Washington who is obligated to repay a student education loan, with the borrower's residency determined by the most recent permanent address provided by the borrower to the educational institution, lender, servicer, or collection agency. The definition of "educational institution" is also modified by including a reference to institutions of higher education as defined in RCW 28B.10.016, and the definition of private student loan was changed to mean loans used solely, rather than primarily, for personal use to finance post secondary education and costs of attendance.
Provisions about the student education loan debt hotline and counselors were modified to clarify that the counselors are available at no cost to the borrower, and the notice about the hotline and counselors is allowed to be sent to the borrower by electronic means approved by the borrower.
Other changes include the addition of a cell phone, computer, and printer to the list of personal property items exempt from execution, attachment, and garnishment, and the addition of fraud and misrepresentation to the list of acts or omissions that a student education loan debt counselor or counseling agency could be liable for.
Lastly, language was added to the intent section to explain how housing counseling services offered to homeowners in foreclosure provides a model for student education loan debt counselors.

The Appropriations Committee recommended the addition of a null and void clause, making the bill null and void unless funded in the budget.

Makes clarifications to the definition of "borrower"; Specifies that student loan debt counseling organizations may be held liable for patterns of fraud, and intentional misrepresentation; and Changes the amount of money held in bank accounts, savings, stocks, and bonds that is exempt from execution, attachment and garnishment in default of a private student loan, from $2,500 to $1,000.

3RD SUBSTITUTE (Appropriations) COMPARED TO 2ND SUBSTITUTE (Appropriations March 3, 2017)
(1) Repeals multiple provisions allowing suspension of a professional license due to student loan default. (2) Changes the judgment interest rate for unpaid private student loan debt to 2 percentage points above the prime rate, unless the judgment interest rate is specified in the contract. (3) Increases the bank account and wage garnishment exemptions for judgments on private student loan debt. (4) Modifies the writs and forms for garnishment and continuing lien on earnings to specify whether a writ is for private student loan debt, and if so, to notify the debtor of their exemption rights for private student loan debt.

SENATE COMMITTEE (Higher Education & Workforce Development) STRIKER AMENDMENT:
Makes technical changes and removes null and void clause.

Hearing Date: Thursday, February 15, 2018 -- 8:00 am

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