Senate Democrats have introduced legislation to make federal financial aid more equitable for students.
They also are introducing legislation to require colleges to report the racial and ethnic composition of their student body.
The measure, Senate Bill 1234, would make it easier for colleges to use data on race and ethnicity to provide assistance to students who qualify for financial aid.
The bill is a response to the growing student debt crisis that has caused students to take out debt to pay for college, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
The Center for Popular Democracy found that as of September, more than 6 million students nationwide had been forced to pay more than $1,000 in interest for the past year.
According to the National Student Debt Crisis, the number of borrowers in default on student loans reached an all-time high of 1.6 million last year.
That was up from a little over 2.6 percent in 2014, according the National Consumer Law Center.
“If you look at the total debt of student loan borrowers, it’s almost 10 times the amount of students in debt in 2013,” said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.).
“The current system is broken,” Franken said.
“If we don’t fix it, it will continue to be broken.”
The bill would also allow students to apply for federal student loans in a variety of ways, including by using a federal tax credit.
It would also expand access to loans to more students who are eligible.
Senate Republicans are expected to vote on the measure in the coming weeks, although a number of senators who are Democrats have expressed concerns that the bill would be too broad.
The measure is being pushed by Sen. Claire McCaskill (D, Mo.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D., Wash.).
Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), who is also a freshman senator, is one of the bill is co-sponsors.
Scott’s office did not respond to a request for comment on whether the senator supports the bill.
The Democratic legislation, introduced by Sens.
Kirsten Gillibrand (D.-N.Y.), Ed Markey (D.
Mass.), Chris Murphy (D -Conn.), and Elizabeth Warren (D.), would also create an Office of Equity and Inclusion.
The office would report to the secretary of education and would report directly to the President.
The legislation would also require colleges and universities to conduct a study of the racial, ethnic, and gender composition of student body on a regular basis.
It also would create a task force to review how colleges and agencies handle student aid and loan debt.
Democrats also are calling on colleges to provide data on student debt and race to aid in college affordability efforts.
They want colleges to include the race and gender of students on their financial aid applications and provide information on race to colleges, the center said.
The Senate is expected to take up the measure on Thursday.