Local congressman targets student debt

Swalwell co-authors bills on loan forgiveness, repayment plan updates

Congressman Eric Swalwell (D-Dublin) took aim at improving the debt situation for Americans working to repay federal student loans with two new bills he introduced with colleagues in Congress last week.

One bill would allow federal student-loan borrowers working in public service positions to receive new loan deferment and forgiveness opportunities, while the other would require the federal government to alert borrowers about all of their repayment options each year.

Both pieces of proposed legislation were introduced July 14 by Swalwell and fellow members of the Future Forum -- a group founded by Swalwell consisting of 18 young House Democrats to focus on issues most relevant to millennials, such as student loan debt.

The first bill, the "Strengthening Forgiveness for Public Servants Act," is companion legislation to Senate Bill 2463, introduced in January by two Democratic senators aiming to enhance the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program and encourage recent college graduates to work in public service.

The federal program offers student loan forgiveness to teachers, police officers, public health workers and other public servants, allowing those qualified borrowers who make full, scheduled monthly payments for 10 years while employed full-time in eligible public service positions to have their remaining Federal Direct Loan balance canceled.

The new bill strives to expand the program by offering additional options to working public servants.

The proposal would allow eligible public employees with outstanding Federal Direct Loan debt to apply to have their student loans deferred while they work in public service as well as have a percentage of their federal loan debt canceled for every two years of service up to a decade.

"The PSLFP takes too long to help most young people with student debt," Swalwell, whose district includes Pleasanton, said in a statement. "This bill does more to encourage graduates to serve their communities while helping to relieve the burden of student debt along the way."

Specifically, the proposal would allow 15% of the borrowers' Federal Direct Loan balance to be canceled after working two years in public service, another 15% after four years, 20% after six years, 20% after eight years and finally 30% after 10 years of employment.

The second bill introduced by Swalwell and others last week was the "Know Your Repayment Options Act."

Referred to as House Resolution 5898, the proposed legislation would require the U.S. Department of Education to inform every federal student loan borrower annually about all of their repayment options.

"Student loan borrowers who know all of their repayment options can choose the one that best suits them," Swalwell said.

"And choosing the best plan means they are more likely to avoid defaulting on those loans or getting into other financial trouble," he added. "With more than 42 million past and present U.S. students now carrying more than $1.3 trillion in student loan debt, giving them annual reminders of how best to repay their debt seems like the least we can do."

The bill would require the yearly update to tell borrowers about their average anticipated monthly payment amount, yearly payment amount, lifetime payment amount, number of months remaining to pay off loans and amount that would be forgiven under all possible repayment plans, Swalwell noted.

The report would also give borrowers instructions on how to switch repayment plans if they want.

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19 people like this
Posted by West side Observer
a resident of Oak Hill
on Jul 20, 2016 at 9:31 am

Don't borrow if you cannot repay the loan solves the "crisis."

6 people like this
Posted by Scott Walsh
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Jul 20, 2016 at 9:38 am

Congressman, we need a bill that will help all students, not just those closely connected to publc employees. We need relief for those kids who wish to aspire to becoming job creators as well. College education is the victim of greed. Nice start maybe, but will help you out being a "Public Servant" but not all of your constituents who labor under this extreme expense. Not advocating college education be free. Just want interest rate affordable and the chance to refinance for lower interest rates like mortgages. This college debt not only affects student but their co-signors (parents usually) as well.

13 people like this
Posted by mike moreno
a resident of Stoneridge
on Jul 20, 2016 at 9:38 am

I am against using taxpayer [my] money to fund these schemes. Restructuring is OK but not forgiveness. A deal is a deal.
Mike Moreno

13 people like this
Posted by Charlie Brown
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Jul 20, 2016 at 10:47 am

NO forgiveness, perhaps restructuring. When I when to college I worked 23 hours a week during the school year doing manual labor. During the summer I worked 70 hours a week, also manual labor. In the end I had to borrow $600.00 but paid it back in 3 months.

If people are going to borrow, they need to show some initiative other than standing outside a Democrat rally yelling for free college!

23 people like this
Posted by Thomas Paine
a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on Jul 20, 2016 at 4:19 pm

When my wife and I graduated from college we had a combined, borrowed debt equal to our combined gross salaries. We paid off the loans in 3 years and learned some valuable life lessons - thrift, sacrifice (no new cars, furniture, vacations), and responsibility to a commitment to repay.

Government should not be taking away these life lessons from our kids today nor should they be singling out benefits by career choice (public service) where many of the benefits are already tons better than the private sector (retirement at 55, generous retirement plans, guaranteed employment).

Once again, politicians dividing us by their criteria instead of treating us all "equal under the law".

2 people like this
Posted by Lessismore
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Jul 21, 2016 at 10:10 am

Ok, Collge debt is a problem.
But again our leaders are trying to fit the problem after the fact.

Maybe we should lower the cost of college.

So each college is broken into different schools. That's where the waste starts. I will pick one area IT. The Unversity has and IT department then each school has their IT department and teams. Thier is no need for this, convert the IT team to one and reduce the staff and cost.

So stop asking the taxes payers for more money and let's ask the Universtiy to look a the business they are educating students for and take some on they business practices and cut some ops cost. This only one area on many.

12 people like this
Posted by beach bum
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 21, 2016 at 9:40 pm

Dear Congressman Swalwell,

Any updates on the alternative to Kate's Law you were going to work so diligently to craft?

You know, it's one of those problems that, well, would take actual courage to fix?

Enjoy your many re-elections to come....

8 people like this
Posted by Patrick Day
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Jul 22, 2016 at 8:52 am

Or we could act as adults and educate ourselves on what it means to take on debt like this. And we need the government to remind us every year as the payment options available to us? If you can't do something as simple as researching payment options then you shouldn't be taking out the loan to begin with.

As a father with a college student I know firsthand the costs of college. The only thing government has done to this point is to help drive the costs through the roof. They've done zero to keep costs down and all you have to look to the UC & CSU systems for proof. Both are 100% broken.

So what's next? Are we going to forgive home loans, wait we already did that. So much for teaching our kids personal responsibility and life lessons.

2 people like this
Posted by Ptown Dad
a resident of Amador Estates
on Jul 22, 2016 at 12:55 pm

The best solution is to make consumer finance a mandatory part of public education. The core problem is making a bad financial decision in many cases - going to expensive colleges without doing the calculations to see if it makes sense. Here's one example - your income potential with a bachelors degree in psychology is very low. Don't go to an expensive private school if you plan to major in psychology.

We have to be smart consumers about the cost of education. It starts with teaching young people financial principles, not bailing them out later. Fix the problem, not the symptom.

2 people like this
Posted by beach bum
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 22, 2016 at 2:42 pm

Yes, let's launch a taxpayer funded effort to educate people that very expensive colleges are, well, very expensive.

5 people like this
Posted by beach bum
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 22, 2016 at 2:49 pm

Hey on a related topic, does anyone have any updates on the increase of out of state students being admitted to the UC system?

Not to fear, I have one right here:

"UC schools harm local students by admitting so many from out of state, audit finds"
Web Link

I wonder, doe$ the Congre$$man have an opinion on thi$ i$$ue???????

Sorry team, if you're not cynical, you're simply not paying attention here in the Golden State.

8 people like this
Posted by ordinary joe
a resident of Amador Estates
on Jul 22, 2016 at 4:25 pm

Big Government Democrats CAUSED this student debt crisis and now the ohhh sooo wise Democrat Social Engineers want to "FIX" the mess they created.

Hey Swalwell...why do you have such little faith in the private sector? Stay away and let the private sector compete without your interference.

With all that new "free time" on your hands, go read Milton Friedman's "Free to Choose" on the wonders of the free market system. (Warning doesn't have a coloring section for people like you.)

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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