TRENTON – Three Congressmen from New Jersey are teaming up to tackle the sometimes problematic student loan process.
U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and U.S. Reps. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-8) and Jon Runyan (R-3) reintroduced the “Christopher Bryski Student Loan Protection Act,” legislation that would bring greater transparency to the student loan process for students, their parents, and other loan co-signers.
Named after Christopher Bryski, a New Jersey college student who suffered a traumatic brain injury during his third year at Rutgers and passed away after spending two years in a coma, the bill is a response to the Bryski family’s struggles to pay back his loans and make legal, financial, and medical decisions on his behalf.
“While the Bryski family struggled to deal with the loss of their son, they were burdened by additional hardships brought on by creditors and lenders,” Lautenberg said in a statement. “They have shared their story so that other families have the guidance they need to make legal and financial decisions when tragedy strikes.”
The “Christopher Bryski Student Loan Protection Act” would ensure that parents and other co-signers are fully informed of their obligations to repay student loans, including in the event of the student’s death.
While federal loans are typically discharged upon a borrower’s death, private loans often are not. The bill would require all private education lenders to clearly define the obligations of the cosigner. It would also require colleges to provide information about loan discharge rules to students and cosigners of a loan.
Pascrell, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, said, “It often takes an entire family to create the opportunity for a student to go to college. Therefore, it is only right that parents and anyone else who takes on financial obligations to educate a student completely understands the terms they are entering.”
Runyan said, “In our current economy more and more students are taking out loans from private lenders to obtain higher education degrees. When Christopher Bryski, a resident of New Jersey’s 3rd district, lost his life, his family took responsibility for paying off Christopher’s student loans and has taken the lead on educating parents and students about all of the financial aspects of the student loan process.”
On June 17, 2004, 23-year-old Christopher Bryski of Marlton was fatally injured in a recreational accident. He spent two years in a vegetative state before passing away in 2006. During that time, his family struggled to make financial decisions on his behalf, and was surprised to learn of their financial obligations.
Upon his death, the U.S. Department of Education discharged Christopher’s student loans. However, Christopher’s father remained liable for the private student loans and continues to make payments on his behalf. The Bryski family has advocated for improved transparency during the student loan process.