WASHINGTON D.C., DC — The Federal Joint Consolidation Loan Program was created by Congress to allow spouses to combine their student loans, however, the program also included one major flaw.
In cases of divorce, a spouse could walk away leaving their ex saddled with all of that debt.
WUSA9 first exposed this problem back in 2015. Now, years later, our reporting has led to a major change that will benefit thousands who got caught up in a financial nightmare.
"This is an issue that is actually near and dear to me because I've been working on it for seven years," said Senator Mark Warner (D-VA).
When WUSA9 first brought this issue to him seven years ago, we asked Senator Warner about this flaw in the Federal Joint Consolidation Loan Program, and why he decided to pursue legislation to fix it.
"I didn't even know that this program existed," said Warner.
A woman named Sara shared her journey with WUSA9, detailing her tormenting experience of uncoupling from her ex-husband and a 100-thousand dollar student loan. She still lives in fear of her ex, so she asked WUSA9 to limit identifying information in our reporting.
She described what it felt like to have to take on someone else's debt that was not even her responsibility.
"It's frustrating. You have this debt that is constantly looming over you. Every time your credit report is run, there it is. It was disabling at times. It prevented me from being able to move forward with my own financial freedom," said Sara.
"This relief will allow someone to immediately file, show that they have been divorced and no longer have to pay for the deadbeat ex-spouse's payments," Senator Warner said.
Sara adds, "so, to see that this debt is now, the possibility of being eliminated, is just liberating."
"Your job is to hold me accountable, but your job is to also provide that local commitment and connection to the community," said the senator. "So, the fact, originally, you guys found Sara by having good, high-quality local journalism. And then, having Sara come, we would never have heard about Sara if you guys hadn't identified this story in the first place."
Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) said the good news is that once the president signs the bill, which he is expected to, it will provide immediate relief to 13,000 people, including happily married couples, across the country.
In the meantime, if you have one of these loans, click here to sign up for updates from the Department of Education.
"There's a tremendous value, I think, in local journalism, of how you can actually identify a problem and then working together to get it fixed," the senator said.
WUSA9 is now on Roku and Amazon Fire TVs. Download the apps today for live newscasts and video on demand.