Rep. Kendrick files two bills to help reduce student debt

7 months 10 hours 45 minutes ago Tuesday, January 17 2017 Jan 17, 2017 Tuesday, January 17, 2017 1:35:00 PM CST January 17, 2017 in News
By: Tess Vrbin, KOMU 8 Digital Producer

JEFFERSON CITY - Rep. Kip Kendrick, D-Columbia, filed two bills on Tuesday addressing the rise of student debt.

The bills have been named the Student Debt Relief Act and the Student Loan Bill of Rights. The average student in Missouri who uses loans to pay for education owes over $26,000, and nationwide student debt totals $1.3 trillion. Kendrick called student debt "a nonpartisan issue (that) requires a nonpartisan solution."

According to Kendrick's office, the Student Debt Relief Act would create a longer student loan repayment period, limit monthly payments to a reasonable percentage of income and allow borrowers to refinance their loans with lower interest rates.

The Student Loan Bill of Rights would create an ombudsman office in the Missouri Department of Higher Education to oversee student loan servicers. Kendrick's office says it's also designed to provide reliable information, customer service and access to repayment options for borrowers.

Kendrick filed the bills a day after Republican Gov. Eric Greitens announced he would cut over $83 million in public higher education funding from Missouri's fiscal year 2017 state budget.

"Make no mistake, these budget cuts will ultimately mean higher tuition and increased student debt in Missouri,” Kendrick said. “The Missouri General Assembly has a moral and constitutional obligation to adequately fund higher education. Until that time, the very least we can do is offer students relief in paying back their student loans.”

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