Student loans are a burden which prevents many from fully participating in our economy and which can make higher education inaccessible in the first place. Student loan debt delays home purchases, business start-ups and other major economic investments. And the fear of accruing debt can prevent students from enrolling or completing a degree.
Seventeen percent of Illinois residents – more than two million people – carry student loan debt, the median value of which is $17,748. Twelve percent of those borrowers have student loan debt in collections. Refinancing private loans and investing in new financing tools are opportunities for the state to earn a reasonable investment return while supporting the aspirations of our residents.
Alleviating debt for Illinois borrowers will generate increased personal investment and fuel our state’s economic growth. We currently run several programs which increase access to capital in alignment with our mission and priorities. We can do this because our expected return on investments in the state portfolio is relatively low – in the range of 2-3 percent. For this program, our office will use up to five percent of our investment portfolio (approximately $600 million) to invest in student loans. With our relatively low expected return, we can refinance private student loans on advantageous terms for the borrower and establish pools of funds for promising new higher education financing programs, such as income share agreements.