The Golden Gate bridge in California.

A California Democrat has introduced a bill that would help borrowers refinance their student loans with lower rate loans.

Senator Ben Allen’s ReLIEF Act (Loan Improvement for Enhanced Futures) is open to graduates with a bachelor’s degree who are steadily employed and current with their public or private student loans.

If the bill is approved, the program will be overseen by the California Educational Facilities Authority (CEFA), and the state would provide $25 million in first-lost protection to lenders. ReLIEF will be funded by California’s General Fund.

While this bill won’t change the amount of money students need to borrow, it will make payments more affordable and hopefully decrease the chance of default. But while it hasn’t been opposed, the Senate Committee on Education did point out that the bill would take money away from other programs, such as the Cal Grant which provides money for everything from tuition and books to food and housing for qualifying students. Although there is high demand for it, the program is underfunded.

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California’s average student loan debt is $21,382, and that number will likely rise as lawmakers point out that the cost of going to a university in the state has doubled over the past decade. A study found that 10.4 percent of students at California postsecondary schools who were scheduled to begin paying their loans in 2013 were in default by the third year of repayment.

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