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September 5, 2017 > Wieckowski joins students in call for passage of student debt relief bill

Wieckowski joins students in call for passage of student debt relief bill

Submitted By Jeff Barbosa

State Senator Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, California State University students and advocates for student debt relief recently spoke in support of SB 16, the senatorÕs bill to assist Californians who default on private loans, at a press conference at Sacramento State University. The bill has already passed the Senate and is on the Assembly floor.

WieckowskiÕs bill lowers the cap private lenders can garnish from borrowersÕ paycheck to 15 percent, the same as federal loan servicers. Currently, private student loan creditors can take as much as 25 percent of a personÕs paycheck.

ÒThis bill not only affects students on this campus, but students on higher education campuses across California, in public and private higher education institutions,Ó said Wieckowski, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a bankruptcy attorney. ÒWith student debt now eclipsing auto loan and credit card debt in America, I am proud of the diverse support for SB 16, including the recent endorsement of the California Democratic Party.Ó

Federal law prohibits student loan debt from being disposed of in bankruptcy. More than 40 million Americans have student debt, totaling more than $1.3 trillion nationally, and outpacing credit card debt and auto loan debt. The burden causes many graduates to postpone buying a home, getting married and starting a family.

Private loans generally do not offer students the range of repayment options or protection available with federal loans, such as deferring payments, cancelling or discharging part of a loan balance, or postponing payments. Almost half of private loan borrowers could be using more affordable federal loans, according to The Institute for College Access and Success, another supporter of SB 16.

ÒIÕm one of the approximately 160,000 nonprofit employees in California with student debt,Ó said Christina Dragonetti, the Nonprofit Student Debt Project manager of the California Association of Nonprofits. ÒAs a federal loan borrower, I can take advantage of repayment plans with low fixed interest rates, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, and a number of consumer protections. This is not true of my colleagues and classmates who got the same education but were forced to take out private loans.Ó

Wieckowski represents the 10th District, which includes southern Alameda County and northeast Santa Clara County.

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