State Representatives Robert F. Hagan (D-Youngstown) and Mike Foley (D-Cleveland) today announced their plan to eliminate the growing burden of student loan debt carried by many of Ohio’s college graduates.
“Higher education has become an arena in which banks and private lenders squeeze profit out of those looking to pave the way to a brighter future for themselves and their families,” said Rep. Hagan. “This legislation allows graduates to stop checking over their shoulder to see if the collection agency is coming, and instead focus on starting their careers.”
Under the proposed legislation, tuition to any of Ohio’s thirteen public colleges and universities would be free during a student’s college career, eliminating the need to finance a college education by taking out loans. Instead, graduates would pay three percent of their income for 24 years to pay for the costs of their education and to fund the program for the benefit of future students.
With the average Ohio student graduating with over $28,000 in student loan debt, many young people with considerable debt burdens end up delaying important life decisions such as buying a car, purchasing a home or even getting married and having children. By capping payback rates at three percent of one’s paycheck, students cannot become saddled with unmanageable debt.
“This is a unique opportunity for the state to actively address a real problem that has haunted so many young people for far too long,” said Rep. Foley. “The inaction on student loan debt is very real, and I think too many young people are wondering why their government has failed them in this regard.”
With an initial investment from the state, the fund would eventually become entirely self-supporting, thus removing the significant financial barriers that may otherwise discourage future generations from pursuing a higher education. Similar legislation recently passed in Oregon, where it received unanimous bi-partisan support.