COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Lawmakers are hoping to tackle the student loan debt crisis in South Carolina.
It’s a problem being seen across the nation, affecting almost 45 million borrowers. Right now, Americans owe more than $1 trillion in student loan debt. Now, a House committee is considering legislation to help prevent more South Carolina families from falling into that statistic.
The Student Loan Bill of Rights is proposing that state leaders begin regulating student loan services through the Commission on Higher Education.
Student loan debt continues to become an overwhelming burden on many families. House Representative Jerry Govan of Orangeburg tells WIS-TV, in the U.S., one in four student loan borrowers are behind in payments and the average amount of debt per student is more than $15,000.
Govan says the Student Loan Bill of Rights will help to educate families about money management and financial literacy before they sign on the dotted line for that big loan.
“In the past five to 10 years – a proliferation in terms of the amount of student loan debt that young people have accumulated along with their parents in terms of trying to provide their children or their young folk with an opportunity for a piece of the American dream, which is a quality education at the higher ed level.”
The representative says he knows first-hand about the burden of paying for a higher education – both as a student, and now a parent of students working to earn a higher education. Govan is sponsoring the Student Loan Bill of Rights proposal which is being considered in the Committee on Education and Public Works in the House of Representatives.
Through this proposed new regulatory office, families would have a place to turn to for reporting, reviewing and attempting to solve student loan complaints. Representative Govan says it’s also important that families are given the resources they need in order to pay these loans back.
“If they entered or engaged in public service and various capacities, that they could have their student loan forgiven for those years up to a certain point. Well, that information wasn’t getting out because, of course, there’s no advocate for that and so that’s just one example of how an ombudsman’s office would work in terms of providing information on alternatives, repayment alternatives,” Representative Govan said.
Studies show that half of those working to pay off their student loan debt did not fully understand what they were taking on when they agreed to accept the student loans. Govan says this is exactly why a Student Loan Bill of Rights is necessary here in the Palmetto State.
This is legislation that’s already in place in several states including: Connecticut, Illinois, California, Michigan, Oklahoma, and Washington.