Student loan industry rallies to fight legislation

WASHINGTON: Protect Student Choice, a coalition of student lenders founded in July, launched a public affairs campaign this week, following the passage of a bill in the House of Representatives that would convert the private student-lending industry into a federal program.

WASHINGTON: Protect Student Choice, a coalition of student lenders founded in July, launched a public affairs campaign this week, following passage of a bill in the House of Representatives that would convert the private student-lending industry into a federal program.

The campaign seeks to raise awareness about the “unintended consequences” of this legislation if it is passed in the Senate, said Don Goldberg, partner at Qorvis Communications, which is providing support.

The group argues that the consequences could limit choice and services for students and their families, as well as cut jobs and business competition. Proponents of the bill say it would abolish excess subsidies paid to private banks that act as middle men.

“Our target is to raise a red flag among moderate Democrats and Republicans in the Senate,” said Goldberg. “They're less interested in what The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal have to say. They're more interested in what the local newspapers are saying.”

Along with a local media relations program, the campaign created a social media network for the coalition, which includes a presence on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. It also launched a Web site.

The NHHEAF, a nonprofit in New Hampshire and a member of the coalition, is working to align its communications efforts around the issue, said Tara Payne, VP of corporate communications for NHHEAF.

“Since last year, the leadership has been actively trying to shape the conversation about this issue,” she added.

The nonprofit launched its own campaign in July called “Voice Your Support,” which aims to reach borrowers, parents, and students with information about what it sees as the unintended consequences of the legislation.

Other coalition members include Nelnet, PNC Bank, Sallie Mae, and SunTrust Banks.

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