As student loan debt piles up across the country, the Governor of New York hopes to alleviate the burden for many families and working Americans in his state by listing a proposed reform agenda set for the floor in 2018.
On December 29, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced his intention to push multiple reforms pertaining to student loans in the state legislature this year.
Gov. Cuomo proposed four key initiatives for the legislative agenda: a new ombudsman for student loans, stronger consumer protection laws, improvements to the total cost disclosure from colleges for students, and protections for professional license holders. Each program hopes to tip the scales back in the favor of students and graduates.
While these reforms have yet to pass a vote, it’s a positive sign for anyone with student debt in New York. Many students who are struggling to repay federal student loans look towards the government for possible solutions.
A state-level student loan ombudsman would ideally help student loan borrowers resolve disputes with their colleges, loan companies, servicing agents, and collection agencies. The NY Department of Financial Services would house the appointed ombudsman, a watchdog designed to help students who run into problems with their student debt.
Another proposed reform is the requirement that colleges provide a yearly estimation of the total cost of their loans. Obscure billing, dense documentation, and confusing loan statements make it hard for students to properly understand their debt obligations; this reform seeks to end those practices. While many schools already offer such documentation, this proposal seeks to make it a universal requirement covering 100 percent of school in New York.
Stronger consumer protection, another proposed reform, would help students avoid fraud and bad businesses practices in the student loan market. False advertising and bold claims for post-graduation job success can entice students to sign up for programs that offer little value in the labor market. Preventing fraud in the college and student loan sphere is crucial in order to protect consumers looking to enter higher education using financial aid.
Protection for professional license holders against state suspensions is another reform designed to help borrowers repay their loans. In the past, late payments and loan defaults could amount to suspended professional licenses regulated by the state. Those affected by this current policy may find themselves in a tough situation during student loan repayment. This reform seeks to help licensed professionals manage their debt without fear of losing their livelihood.
On a final note, another proposed rule for NY campuses concerns the daily meals of students in the state. Gov. Cuomo “endorsed a requirement for all SUNY and CUNY schools to have food pantries on campus.” The reason points to students suffering from food insecurity and caloric deficits while studying on a budget.