Lawmakers unveil bill aimed at helping people with student loan debt

 

Lawmakers unveiled a bill which aims to help people pay down student loan debt and handle the cost of borrowing.

The bill was unveiled by Sens. Vincent J. Hughes (D-Philadelphia/Montgomery), Katie Muth (D-Montgomery/Chester) and Lindsey Williams (D-Allegheny) Wednesday.

The plan, called the PA Student HELP (Higher Education Lending Protection) Act, would allow students to refinance high-interest debt and provide tax credits for those who have outstanding student loans.

The plan also includes incentives for employers to help pay down student loan debt of their employees.

The refinancing program, aimed at curbing student debt, would be funded by up to $1 billion in bond financing.

Currently there is an estimated $68 billion in outstanding student loan debt in Pennsylvania.The state has the highest student debt per capita in the United States. Over 1.8 million Pennsylvanians carry student loan debt.

In addition to the refinancing program, the proposal establishes a student loan tax credit where individuals with student loan debt would also be able to seek up to $500 per year tax credit against their Personal Income Tax liability to help manage student loan costs.

Up to $10 million in tax credits per year would be available.

Nationwide more than 45 million people owe more than $1.5 trillion in federal student loans. Studies show that by 2020, 63 percent of jobs in Pennsylvania will require some level of higher education.