Letter to the editor


H.R.4170 would help ease student loan burdens.

In 2012, student loan debt surpassed credit card debt. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau estimates that $1 trillion is owed in student debt. Students attending college have to pay for tuition, standard fees, room and board, books and supplies, transportation and daily living expenses. Full-time students attending a private four-year university such as USC can pay up to $57,876 when including total cost of attendance.

On March 8, H.R.4170, known as the Student Loan Forgiveness Act of 2012, was introduced to the House of Representatives by Rep. Hansen Clarke of the 13th district of Michigan. The purpose of the act, according to Open Congress, is to “increase purchasing power, strengthen economic recovery and restore fairness in financing higher education in the United States through student loan forgiveness, caps on interest rates on federal student loans, and refinancing opportunities for private borrowers, and for other purposes.”

According to Clarke, there are currently student loan forgiveness programs aimed at specific fields such as teaching, medical, nursing and mental health professions that have strict guidelines.

H.R.4170 would cover federal student loans and private student loans if the borrower’s adjusted income is equal to or less than their education debt. It would also cap the federal interest rate from 6.8 percent to 3.4 percent. The bill creates a 10-10 standard, which would give borrowers the opportunity to make payments of 10 percent of their income for 10 years, and would eliminate the remaining debt. It would reduce the current Public Service Loan from 10 years to five years. Borrowers who are in default would be eligible to enroll in the Income Based Repayment Plan. Finally, borrowers who have paid 10 percent of their discretionary income totaling 120 payments for the past 10 years would immediately qualify if the bill becomes law.

If the bill is passed it would increase the ability of student borrowers to pay off their student loans that would ultimately help them purchase a home, invest in business, afford the cost of living, afford healthcare and not declare bankruptcy. The bill would help borrowers who have fallen behind on their debt because of unforeseen circumstances, such as illness, unemployment, family separation or a death in the family.

It is time for our policymakers to invest in the future of young, educated Americans who can build and stimulate a strong economy.

 

Yesenia Parra

Graduate student, social work