The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

July 25, 2007

Rockefeller keeps student loan amnesty in new Senate measure

Amnesty in student loans for anyone putting in a full decade of public service work upon graduation, as pushed by Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., is included in a higher education access act passed by the full Senate.

Any borrower who spends at least 10 years in a public service job would have to repay only a portion of a student loan.

“Too often, college graduates who devote their careers to social work and public service are at a disadvantage and left to pay back high student loans with low salaries,” Rockefeller said.

“This bill is not only a worthwhile investment in our students, but an investment in the future of our country.”

As an example, Rockefeller used the case of a social worker with one child earning $26,800 in West Virginia and faced with a student loan debt of $16,041. Under the Senate program, the monthly payment would be trimmed from $185 to $78, or a 58 percent reduction.

Public service jobs are defined as those in government, public emergency management, public safety and law enforcement, public health, education, child care, social work, public interest legal services, including prosecution or public defense, along with school and library-based employment.

Additionally, the proposed act would help other student loan borrowers by allowing the option of a cap on federal loan payment at no more than 15 percent of a borrower’s discretionary income.

“The cost of college has skyrocketed, leaving many students in debt and discouraging others from pursuing a higher education,” the senator said.

“This legislation helps to ease the burden for students, giving them the opportunity to pursue higher education that otherwise might have been out of their reach.”

Some students resort to multiple forms of financial aid to cover tuition in the facing of mounting education costs, Rockefeller noted.

Last year, the average tuition cost of a West Virginia student was $9,992.

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