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STUDENT DEBT: Attempting to find a fair solution

Incentive to work. Isn’t that something we need more of today?

Then why are we considering allowing millions of people to not pay their student loan debt, thus dissuading them from working to make a buck, pay off their debt and be responsible, productive citizens?

Look, we don’t profess to know all the details or intracacies of student loan debt, and we agree there needs to be some changes to mitigate the $1.7 trillion in student loan debt in this country.

We understand that, two years ago thousands of businesses were ordered to close by the government due to the pandemic and many of these borrowers were laid off, losing their means to repay their loans.

We also know many businesses closed for good.

But now our unemployment rate is at historic lows, businesses are having tremendous challenges finding workers, yet the repayment requirement is again being eased, delayed and eliminated in some cases.

And let’s be clear, borrowers face responsibility and legal obligation to pay their debts and they knew that going into the loans.

The U.S. Department of Education recently announced a number of changes to the federal student loan system — changes it says are designed to bring millions of borrowers closer to debt forgiveness.

More than 42 million Americans are in debt for their education — that’s 1 in 8 Americans (12.9%), according to an analysis of May 2021 census data.

Recently, it was discovered that student loan servicers weren’t tracking the number of payments borrowers had made in income-driven repayment plans, higher education expert Mark Kantrowitz told CNBC recently.

To fix this, the Education Department will order servicers to count the number of qualifying payments retroactively, he said.

The switch into a current status should be automatic for borrowers, Kantrowitz said.

Collection activity, including wage garnishment and the offset of Social Security benefits, is also supposed to end.

Again, we go back to borrowers’ responsibility to pay off their debts.

Hardship is and has been considered and repayment requirements have been and continued to be allowed.

But let’s start with tightening restrictions on borrowing — students should have to make firm commitments and should not be allowed to automatically keep borrowing more money as they waffle between programs of study, thus extending their education and debt. In other words, let’s think about a limit or limits to borrowing to keep borrowers more accountable — theoretically preventing them from facing thousands and thousands of dollars of debt upon graduation.

More than 9 million borrowers are enrolled in the programs, according to federal student aid data.

That’s fair.

So let’s get to work and make it work.

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