In April, Representative Hansen Clarke discussed his plan to ease student loan debt with students from a Detroit classroom.
H.R. 4170 would forgive student loan debt for those who have paid 10 percent of their discretionary income toward their loans for 10 years and would cap interest on federal student loans at the current rate of 3.4 percent. Also, individuals who go into teaching, public service or practice medicine in under served areas would have their debt forgiven after only five years.
National student loan debt is a staggering $1 trillion. Nationwide, people over 60 years-of-age owe about $36 million in student loans.
Representative Clark stated that he had witnessed people still paying off this debt with their social security checks, and that was one item that motivated him to propose the bill.
Clarke’s bill, which currently has five other sponsors, is aimed at helping current and future student borrowers. If the bill passes, those who take out student loans could see their debt forgiven up to $45,520, which is equal to the average cost of a four year degree at a public university.
Before 1998, student loan debts seven years or older, could be forgiven in a bankruptcy just like credit card debt or an unsecured personal loan. Then Congress passed a law that made it impossible for a student loan to be forgiven except in very rare cases. If a loan isn’t paid, wages, taxes, bank accounts and even Social Security benefits can be garnished.
Clarke encouraged students to get their peers involved and tell lawmakers their stories. An online petition of the bill has nearly 500,00 signatures.
“You really can’t have freedom when you’re eyeballs deep in debt,” Clarke said. “I intend (this bill) to be a call of action.”
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