BOSTON — The Massachusetts Senate on Thursday passed legislation to protect people who default on student loans from being stripped of their professional license and potentially their ability to work.

Under a 1990 law, the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority and the Massachusetts Higher Education Assistance Corporation (which now operates as American Student Assistance) are able to request that a borrower's state-issued professional license, certificate or registration be suspended, revoked or canceled if the borrower defaults on a loan.

The bill (S 2266) approved on a voice vote Thursday, spearheaded by Sen. William Brownsberger, repeals that 1990 law.

"Taking away a borrower's ability to engage in their profession does not put them in a better position to be able to repay the loan," Brownsberger said. On the Senate floor, he added that the 1990 law "doesn't make much sense."

Ways and Means Chairwoman Sen. Karen Spilka also said the 1990 law "clearly makes no sense."

"Taking away licenses from those who default on student loans makes it even more difficult, if not impossible, for that person to make a living and pay back those loans," she said in a statement. "Instead, this bill makes sure people can continue to work and pay off their debt."

The bill now goes to the House, where it must pass if it is to become law.