A Student Loan Bill of Rights

In an effort to address the ongoing student loan crisis, Connecticut has become the first state to enact a student loan bill of rights. This law will serve as way to more closely monitor the lenders in this industry, as well as provide student borrowers with necessary education and resources.

The law creates a Student Loan Ombudsman who will resolve complaints, analyze data, and provide more education to borrowers. Education courses will be created for borrowers so they are better able to understand their rights and responsibilities associated with the debt.

It is abundantly clear that we need more education on student loans, but we also need to shut down unscrupulous lenders and education institutions. This law will provide a centralized way to do just that.

Borrowers must be better informed about their rights and options so they can make sound financial decisions as they embark on the path to higher education. This law is a good example of what can be done at the state level to better understand and address the problem of runaway student loan debt.

Hopefully other states will follow Connecticut’s lead. The student loan crisis will not solve itself and it’s critical that the government start taking action to find workable solutions to a problem that has the potential to affect the lives of tens of millions of Americans.

 

RG-3Rachel Gallegos

Lead Consumer Advocate, Steve Harvey Law

 

 

Student Loans Plague Senior Citizens

Some senior citizens face an alarming amount of student loan debt. As a result, those already on a limited fixed income are facing even greater financial stress. A recent article in Money magazine detailed this trend in the student loan universe. Money reports that “over the past decade, people over the age of 60 had the fastest growing educational loan balances of any age group, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.”

Facing student loan debt as you enter retirement is daunting, and yet this population accounts for approximately $58 billion of the total student loan debt in the United States. For these unhappy borrowers, a percentage of tax refunds, wages, and Social Security can all be garnished to collect on federal student loans. In a household with a fixed income, this can be devastating.

Philadelphia’s own Joanna Darcus of Community Legal Services works with low income clients facing student loan debt. She stated that her clients viewed education as “a pathway out of poverty and toward financial stability, but their reality is much different from that,” As Money reports.

While there are government initiatives to ease student loan debt by providing income based repayment plans and the option to discharge federal student loan debt in bankruptcy, it is unclear how this will affect older borrowers.

Retirement should be a time when a lifetime of work is rewarded. Instead, a growing number of people are faced with a debt that is crippling their ability to meet basic needs.

 

RG-3Rachel Gallegos

Lead Consumer Advocate, Steve Harvey Law

 

 

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