Bloomfield Introduces Bills to Address Student Debt
"I recently introduced two pieces of legislation to address the looming issue of student loan debt. The first bill is the Help Students Repay Act. This act, which is already starting to gather bi-partisan support, is a rather uncontroversial one. One of the best ways to reduce debt and interest payments is to get ahead and start paying down the principle, rather than making small, minimal payments into perpetuity. Yet currently, there is no option allowing someone who is repaying their federal student loans to accelerate their repayment plan without penalty. The Help Students Repay Act will allow borrowers, who wish to do so, to get ahead of their student loans and repay their loans ahead of schedule without penalty. It would be rather cynical to penalize those trying to get out of student loan debt by making proper payments, or flatly prohibit it, as is the current practice.
The other, more controversial but I believe necessary change, is the University Co-Signers Act. This bill would require that any university receiving federal loans from students would be required to be co-signers to those same loans. This change will force universities to change their current practices, wherein they have no compulsion to ensure that students will be able to repay the loans they receive. Universities will need to consider the programs and degree paths they are offering. They will be forced to consider how many students they funnel into career paths that the universities know full-well will be unable to repay their loan debt. Universities will be forced to consider if it makes sense to keep charging higher and higher tuition when they'll be responsible for loan repayment if that repayment can not be made. It is possible that certain, less 'lucrative' or 'practical' course programs will be removed from universities. Hopefully, it will encourage students to consider if they need to take out six figure debt in order to pursue their dreams, when maybe that dream doesn't need a university degree in the first place. We have to break the cultural expectation where, no matter your career path, dreams, or long-term goals, you're "supposed to" go to a university. This societal expectation artificially increases demand as well, driving up the price of universities.
Most importantly, we have to break the cycle of perpetually increasing university costs. Universities increase tuition rates, which causes greater demand for loans, the government then grants those loans, which in turn allows universities to increase tuition rates again because they know the students will be able to pay. This cycle will continue indefinitely because universities have no incentive to freeze or decrease costs so long as they know the loans will be given out and it doesn't matter to a university if the loans are repaid or not. This cycle must change and the University Co-Signers Act can provide that change."