Student loan debt has reached the highest form of debt for many young Americans, surpassing credit card debt, auto insurance and home mortgage debt, and it shows no sign of slowing down -- in fact it is increasing.
The total amount of student-loan debt has reached $1.1 trillion, with the average student debt of around $26,000. Students with private loan debt included are in the six digits. I am one of those college graduates.
Like other studen-loan debtors, I am facing the difficulty of putting off important decisions for my future. Will I ever be able to afford a car? A house? A health-care plan? Save for a retirement plan? Get married and have a family? Or even travel?
With increasing interest rates and private lenders steamrolling borrowers for profit, how can any young Americans get out of this colossal debt just because they were trying to better their education and standing in the job market.
I have written to Congressman Jim Himes and both of Connecticut's U.S. Senators, Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal, to address this problem immediately. I have asked that they put forward a Student Loan Forgiveness Act to erase all federal student loan debt and pay borrowers for private loan debt.
If college graduates didn't have all this debt, more money could be propelled into the economy from consumer spending. We would be able to purchase homes and move out of our parents' homes, buy cars, invest in businesses and the stock market, and spend on goods and services which we could not afford under this debt. This would create huge economic growth with added revenue and serves as a common-sense approach.
For future college graduates with student-loan debt, changes will be needed, such as a way for graduates to claim bankruptcy, just like any other debtor. Let borrowers apply for their private student loans to become consolidated Federal Direct Education Loans, expand the public-service forgiveness to include part-time workers in public service, force private lenders to advertise multiple repayment plans for a single loan instead of only one, and cap interest rates for federal direct loans at 3.4 percent.
We need to rein in private education lenders like Sallie Mae, who are free from government oversight to do what they want to borrowers, and we need to fix the way colleges set tuition rates. This is not the American Dream I had in mind. Enough is enough.
Gregg J. French