I started this session with several goals: reforming oil & gas regulations, expanding renewables, and addressing the student debt crisis, to name a few. Today, I’m pleased to announce that we’ve taken some big steps forward in mitigating the level of student debt that is burdening Coloradans.
Today, 730,000 Coloradans owe an average of $36,000 in student loan debt. Student debt is a pressing issue facing Coloradans both young and old (more than 50,000 Coloradans over the age of 60 owe student loan debt).
Far too often, these borrowers are trying to navigate repayment in a sea of unscrupulous companies. Unlike mortgages, credit cards, and business loans, student loan servicers are not regulated in the state of Colorado. Left unchecked, these companies turn to predatory behavior designed to maximize profits.
To begin to address this crisis, I introduced the following two bills with my colleagues in the Senate:
1. The Regulate Student Loan Servicers Act
The Regulate Student Loan Servicers Act (SB19-002) requires student loan companies to be licensed in Colorado and follow a set of basic consumer protection standards. The bill also creates an ombudsman to investigate complaints and predatory behavior, and to serve as a resource and advocate for borrowers.
2. The Employee Information Student Loan Programs Act
The Employee Information Student Loan Programs Act (SB19-057), which recently passed the Senate 25-10, will mandate that thousands of state, local, and school district employees will regularly receive information to help them enroll and participate in student loan forgiveness programs. This will ensure that more people enroll in programs that will reduce their loan payments and even forgive large portions of their debt if they work in the public sector or for a nonprofit organization.
I know that more needs to be done to address the rising costs of higher education. But these are two, common-sense solutions that target the mounting student debt too many Coloradans face.
Stay tuned for an update on my other big goals for this legislative session…