Aerial view of Bloomington, Indiana.

Representative Luke Messer from Indiana’s Sixth District introduced a new bill, H.R. 1429, in early March that would help cut down on the amount of student loan debt by informing and educating students on their outstanding debt as well as providing monthly payment estimates upon graduation.

Rep. Messer’s legislation—the Letter of Estimated Annual Debt for Students (LEADS) Act—is patterned after the Indiana University program does just what the LEADS Act will do. Indiana University sends letters to students with an estimate of their total debt amount at graduation, and the university projects monthly payments after graduation. Launched in 2012, the program was designed to educate students about the loans they take out and prevent them from borrowing too much.

LEADS would ensure that colleges and universities that accept federal aid send an annual letter to students with the mentioned loan information. Messer stated during his announcement that many students don’t fully understand how getting into too much student loan debt can impact their future. He continued, “We want to empower students with information so they can make better-informed decisions about their education, finances and future.”

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One of Messer’s motivations is the success of the program at Indiana University. After the program launched in 2012, undergraduate student borrowing decreased by more than $100 million, or 23 percent. With that in mind, the Indiana General Assembly passed legislation in 2015 that required all colleges that accept state aid to send these letters to students.

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