javascript hit counter

Bill would allow defaulting loanees to keep licenses | news > Massachusetts

BOSTON — Massachusetts residents who default on their college loans would not have their license or professional certification revoked under a bill awaiting action by Gov. Charlie Baker.

The proposal, approved by the state Legislature on Monday, would prevent state agencies or registrars from denying or revoking a license or professional or professional certificate or registration because of an individual’s default on an educational loan.

Under current Massachusetts law, residents may revoke, refuse, or refuse to renew their license or professional certification if they fail to repay their student loan debt. The Bay State is one of only 14 states with such a law on the books.

Senate Speaker Karen Spilka, D-Ashland, said the legislation will help people struggling with college loan debt, which disproportionately affects young, low-income people.

“Revoking professional licenses they obtained with a student loan does not solve the problem of loan defaults, and it actively makes the problem worse by preventing new professionals from having the funds to pay off their loans,” Spilka said in one Explanation.

According to state data, an estimated 1 million Massachusetts residents hold nearly $31 billion in federal student loan debt, an average of $34,146 per borrower.

According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, more than 44 million Americans nationwide are struggling with student loan debt, which surpassed $1.7 trillion last year.

A federal moratorium on college loan repayments related to the COVID-19 pandemic is scheduled to expire at the end of the year, which state officials say will affect hundreds of thousands of borrowers in the state.

“As the federal moratorium nears its end, we must recognize the continued impact of COVID-19 on employment and the financial health of borrowers,” said Sen. Jamie Eldridge, D-Acton, a lead sponsor of the measure. “The bill ensures that borrowers who are heavily burdened with student loans can continue their careers and work toward paying off their student loans.”

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden released a statement on social media saying he had instructed Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona to extend the payment pause no later than April 30.

The plan provided debt relief of up to $10,000 for those earning less than $125,000 a year and up to $20,000 for those receiving state Pell grants. However, federal courts blocked the plan in response to lawsuits from Republican-led states.

More than 26 million people applied for student loan relief ahead of the latest court decisions, according to the Biden administration.

The Biden administration has asked the US Supreme Court to let the bailout go into effect amid legal challenges.

Christian M. Wade reports on the Massachusetts Statehouse for the North of Boston Media Group’s newspapers and websites. Email him at [email protected]