Members of Congress Hold Forum on Student Loan Debt

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - EducationOn Monday, U.S. Representatives Mike Quigley (IL-05), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), and Senator Dick Durbin (IL) held a congressional field forum to explore the impact of the growing student loan debt on families and the economy. The forum was hosted by Rep. Quigley in the Chicago City Council chambers, where the Illinois lawmakers heard testimony from a diverse panel of higher education experts, consumer protection advocates, and students affected by escalating debt.

A June 2012 study from UNC-Greensboro found that “borrowing an additional $10,000 for education decreases the probability of marriage by 11 and 17 percentage points, respectively, for men and women …whose age is below 37.” A May 2012 study from Rutgers University found that student debt caused 40 percent of graduates to delay a major purchase.

“My office often hears from students who have problems with their loans but have no idea where to turn for help. When Congress reconvenes in September, I intend to introduce legislation to create a clearinghouse for student debt issues through the U.S. Department of Education which will facilitate student inquiries and refer them to the appropriate entity,” said Senator Durbin. Two student witnesses also testified to the impact student loan debt has had on their higher education and post-collegiate decisions.

Katie Pantell is a National Merit Scholar attending Loyola University of Chicago on scholarship. Despite financial aid, she is still borrowing money to cover her daily expenses. Ms. Pantell testified that she’s worried that when she graduates with $20,000 or more in debt, she won’t be able to pursue Teach America or another public service position because of her debt and the accruing interest.

Alex Brooks graduated from ITT Technical Institute in 2006, but when he began looking for jobs, prospective employers told him he did not have the proper certification to do any computer programming, a requirement his school never informed him he would need. Brooks’ situation highlights one of the criticisms of for-profit schools, some of whom use misleading recruiting practices that leave students unprepared and in debt.

“We’ve seen first-hand the damage done to these students who wanted nothing more than to go to school to better themselves only to be burdened with debilitating debt and few job prospects in their chosen field. Left unchecked, I fear these institutions will produce a generation of students saddled with debt and years of financial insecurity,” said Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

Comments are closed.