The Pennsylvania legislature recently passed a bill that will ensure borrowers are up-to-date on their student loan debt.
The average Pennsylvania college student graduates with $35,000 in student loans, which is higher than any other state in the U.S. And within three years of graduation, 10 percent of Pennsylvania student loan borrowers default on their debt.
In order to combat this problem, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives recently passed a bill that would ensure students stay informed about how much debt they are accumulating.
HB 2124 would require all colleges and universities to provide annual notices to students about their outstanding student loans and where they are at on their total borrowing limit. The Pennsylvania Department of Education will be responsible for carrying out and enforcing the bill.
The bill’s co-sponsor, State Rep. Mike Driscoll, currently has two kids in college. Driscoll said he understands how student loan debt can affect the entire family, and that legislators must do a better job of keeping students informed.
“We as legislators have to get more active in helping these kids,” he added.
State Rep. Tina Baker, who has three children in college, pointed out that many students come from single-parent homes, so they are forced to find ways to pay for college on their own. She hopes the bill, if it becomes a law, will give clarity to families trying to navigate the student loan system.
State Sen. Vince Hughes supported the bill but argued that to get to the root of the problem, legislators must address rising tuition costs. Over the past 18 years, tuition at public Pennsylvania colleges rose 66 percent.
Next, the bill will head to the state Senate for approval. In the meantime, Pennsylvania legislators have other bills in the works aimed at helping students find relief from student loan debt.
Many college students put off thinking about student loan repayment until their six-month grace period after graduation is up. But with a little proactive planning, students can make repaying their student loans an easier process.
The first step students can take is to track down all of their loans and figure out the total balance. This can be challenging because many students have both private student loans and federal loans. Students can contact the financial aid department at their college and then reach out to each student loan servicer. They can also consult the National Student Loan Data System specifically for their federal loans.
From there, students can begin to get an idea of what their monthly loan payments will look like and can begin thinking about repayment options. If they need additional help, they can ask to meet privately with a financial aid officer at their school.
Students who are able can even begin making payments on their loans while they are still in college. This can be difficult for many college students, but even contributing $75 a month could save a borrower hundreds of dollars over the total life of the loan.