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Student debt: Defining issue of a generation?

March 04, 2019 07:18 PM

ALBANY - When 2.4 million New Yorkers owe $90 billion in student loan debt, that's more than just a problem.

"I think this is a major crisis for the country and for New York State," declared David Jones, President and CEO of the New York City-based Community Service Society. "There's no question that if the federal government was intent on (fixing) this (it wouldn't be the way it is). They haven't expressed a lot of interest in protecting the borrowers. It's more on protecting the servicers."

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At a joint legislative committee hearing in Albany on Monday, Jones testified he doesn't believe the federal government is doing enough to protect borrowers from unscrupulous lenders -- and so New York state, he believes, has to do more.

"Our concern obviously is that a young person signs away their life and they may not realize it," he said.

Adam Boornazian is a retired student loan lender who now works as a financial coach. He says he sees an abundance of borrowers who simply don't trust the people from whom they borrow money.

"What I see most evidently is a lack of information," he said. "People really aren't getting the education they need and they're not able to make an investment in education and get a return. That's a big part of what I see. But also, on the other end, I see people who are trying to take advantage of people."

Senator Jim Tedisco (R - Glenville) is on the Senate Banking Committee, which, along with the Consumer Protection Committee, is thinking about creating an independent statewide student loan consumer assistance program.

"I think education needs to be fixed," Tedisco asserted. "They are our future. Their education is our future. If they can't get access to it and if they can't get access to good employment, jobs, or business expansion, we're going to fail as a state and as a nation."

With that said, Senator Tedisco remains leery about the possibility of government regulating private industry. However, once that hurdle is cleared, there's the issue of paying for the program.

One option is to charge New York lenders a registration fee. Another calls for civil penalties to be collected and used from fraudulent lending companies.

Credits

Dan Levy

Copyright 2019 WNYT-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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