Relief for New Yorkers with student loan debt will be coming thanks to a package of new bills that are expected to be signed.
On May 4, the New York State Senate announced that legislation will be passed that provides student debt relief. The Senate Majority is committed to removing barriers that limit students from pursuing higher education by proposing legislation that would increase the income eligibility for the tuition assistance program
“The importance of higher education for both the personal mobility of our students, and the economic health of our state could not be clearer. We as lawmakers have a responsibility to assist students in making informed decisions on their borrowing, and provide assistance to ensure that the cost of higher education is accessible to all who wish to pursue it,” Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said. “Student debt is a crippling burden on many New Yorkers already struggling to pay their bills during a period of inflation. While we wait for student debt relief from Washington, these bills make substantial steps to provide financial aid assistance and set our students up for success now and in the future.”
The proposed group of bills includes removal of default interest, tuition assistance for high school programs, requiring the Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC) to make a determination of the financial eligibility of a student for financial aid within sixty days, excluding certain sums due from the definition of debt, requiring new employees to receive student loan repayment information, and requiring lenders to provide information to cosigner applicants about their rights.
After the successful fight for reimbursement to colleges for the TAP Gap, resulting in new funding of $48.8 million to SUNY and $59.6 million to CUNY, these bills continue the Senate Majority’s commitment to increasing access to higher education for every New York student.
Bill sponsor and Chair of the Committee on Higher Education, Senator Toby Ann Stavisky said, “Too many students graduate from college, starting their careers owing thousands of dollars in student loans and mortgaging their future. The first of two bills I am sponsoring would increase the income for TAP eligibility from $80,000 to $110,000. The second bill requires the Higher Education Service Corporation (HESC) to make a determination on applications within sixty days. These measures will provide relief for many working and middle class families in New York.”
Still, New York Attorney General Letitia James is calling on the federal government to step its game up and fully cancel student debt owed by every federal student loan borrower in the country. In a letter to President Joe Biden, Attorney General James and the attorneys general of Hawaii, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Washington stress that borrowers need immediate relief from the burden of student loan debt.
This letter is latest action Attorney General James has taken to support student loan borrowers. Though the coalition of state attorneys general acknowledges the Biden administration’s commitment to addressing the issue, however, the coalition urges the president to immediately exercise his authority under the Higher Education Act to cancel all federal student loan debt for every borrower.
“While I commend President Biden for giving serious consideration to forgiving $10,000 per borrower, we must take bolder, more decisive action to end this crisis and provide Americans with the tools they need to thrive,” said Attorney General James. “Student debt keeps millions of struggling borrowers from reaching financial stability and leads to a cycle of financial burdens that follow them throughout their lives. I join my colleagues in urging President Biden to lead one of the most impactful racial and economic justice initiatives in history by canceling this debt, in its entirety, for all.”
Student borrowers across the nation owe more than $1.7 trillion to the federal government. The letter argues that the full cancellation of student debt is necessary to address the enormity of debts owed, systemically flawed repayment and forgiveness systems, and the disproportionate impact of the debt burden on millions of borrowers. Though the state attorneys general who signed off on this letter have taken actions to ease debt burdens wherever possible, they state that the only permanent action by the Biden administration can provide the widespread relief that is needed by millions of federal student loan borrowers.
The letter also argues that the full cancellation of federal student loan debts will not only reduce stress and mental fatigue of borrowers, but also create opportunities for them to save for retirement and purchase homes.