The amount of student loan debt in our country and state is at crisis level. Some 44 million Americans carry student loans totaling more than $1.5 trillion, and in 2016 someone defaulted on a student loan every 28 seconds. In Massachusetts, roughly 855,000 residents owe $33 billion in student loans (107% growth from 2007-2017) and nearly 95,000 residents in Massachusetts are delinquent on student loan payments. To make matters worse, Education Secretary DeVos has rolled back protective provisions included in the Obama Administration’s Student Aid Bill of rights, such as holding loan servicers accountable for providing accurate information to borrowers about their debt, and preventing loan servicers from slapping excessive fees on borrowers.
My bill works to beef up the Attorney General’s Student Loan Assistance Unit, create a student loan ombudsman and give that position the teeth to defend the interests of student borrowers. The ombudsman would ensure that student borrowers are notified of their rights and are not getting cheated. The ombudsman would also be responsible for helping borrowers explore repayment options, apply for income-driven plans, avoid or remove a default, end wage garnishments, resolve billing disputes, obtain loan details and stop harassing phone calls. My bill works to create a one-stop customer service, giving students a place to get questions answered and to send complaints. There would finally be a dedicated advocate for students and their families.