NJ Congressman: Debt Collectors Should Give Dead or Disabled Students a Break
U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., says students who borrow money for college and then die or become disabled should not be targeted by aggressive debt collectors.
Pallone says he's sponsoring a bill to curb the practices of lending agencies such as the New Jersey Higher Education Assistance Authority, which refused loan forgiveness to a mother whose son died.
"In New Jersey, we have had a lot of attention paid to the state agency, HESAA, which basically has been very aggressive in going after students," he said Wednesday.
Pallone's legislation would forgive student loans if the borrower dies or is permanently disabled.
"I think that this is a common sense thing. It does not affect a lot of people because fortunately, not that many students are recent grads who have passed away or are disabled. But nonetheless, it is something that should be done."
Pallone's bill would also postpone loan repayment for a student with a temporary disability. A third provision in the legislation requires student loan lenders to disclose default rates in the loan documents to make a prospective borrower more aware of the financial risk before they sign on to the loan agreement.
He admits that this is just a small part of solving the much larger problem of student loan debt.
"There is a larger issue of college affordability that is still out there, and that needs to be addressed as well by trying to allow students to renegotiate loans at a lower interest rate, and also to provide some kind of federal program so that you can go to college and not have to take out all of these huge student loans."