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Secretary Clinton has the solution for student debt

More than 40 million Americans still have student debt.

I know because I’m one of them. I still owe $50,000 in student loan payments. I know I’m not the only member of Congress who personally faces this issue. Even Barack and Michelle Obama only paid off their own student loans a few years before they entered the White House.

{mosads}To be clear, I consider myself lucky. Without student loans, there is no way I could have become the first in my family to attend college twenty years ago. But for too many, student loans have become the start of a lifetime of crippling debt.

Today’s students have already seen their average debt increase a shocking 25 percent since 2008. Here in Pennsylvania, we have the third-highest average student debt in the country at more than $33,000.

Tomorrow’s students are even worse off. In fact, if current trends hold up, the boys and girls who are born today can expect their bachelors’ degrees to cost tens of thousands of dollars more than they do today.

President Obama has done much to address this problem – doubling Pell Grant funding, expanding the American Opportunity Tax Credit, and working hard to do what he can through executive actions to make college affordable for everyone.

But the sheer scale of this problem means that this work is only just beginning. That’s one reason why this upcoming election is so important.

And it’s the main reason why I have decided to support Hillary Clinton.

In my view, Hillary has the most comprehensive and effective plan for tackling the bourgeoning student debt that still holds so many Americans back as they enter the workforce and attempt to start their lives.

Her plan addresses the shockingly high interest rates – often higher than 6 percent – which are the root of this problem.

Just as it’s possible to refinance a home mortgage, Hillary believes people ought to be able to do the same with their student debt. Congress is debating a bill that would do just that, and the Senate is only two votes shy of passing this law. The 2016 election could be the last push that’s needed to make this solution a reality.

To his credit, Senator Sanders has focused heavily on the student loan issue. While his genuine passion on this issue is admirable, sadly, his plan to address the problem is paper thin.  

In contrast, it’s where Hillary’s plan is just beginning. She’s not only focused on solving this problem for kids who are born today, but on the crushing burdens that are currently weighing millions of Americans down.

Too many Americans remain unaware of President Obama’s initiative to limit student debt to 10 percent of income. Hillary’s plan will ensure that every borrower knows about and can participate in such a program and that there are no barriers to signing up.

She will also crack down on predatory bill collectors, who too often harass Americans just as they’re trying to get on their feet. Her plan would require that loan servicers offer more flexibility and repayment options, which will be an immediate relief to a lot of households.

Hillary’s plan will also expand debt relief for anyone who participates in national service. She believes our nation should invest in anyone who is willing to participate in AmeriCorps or other service options. And she would also help entrepreneurs who are starting small businesses defer their payments, and pay zero percent interest for up to three years.

Hillary’s plan for relieving student debt is an idea that is long overdue, especially when you look at the students of tomorrow.

My wife and I have a two-year old daughter, Abby. Naturally, we worry about our daughter’s future. My wife occasionally jokes, “Will we have to sell our house to pay for college by the time Abby is 18?” She is only half-joking.

When my father came to America as a 19-year-old immigrant from Ireland, he dreamt that one day his children would have opportunities he never had. In America, an immigrant’s son can reach college and even the marbled halls of Congress in a single generation.

Hillary believes we need to make sure that uniquely American story is still possible.

She will work hard to make sure that debt never hold anyone back. And as president, this will be just one of the many barriers I know she will fight to break.

Boyle is a first term congressman representing the 13th District of Pennsylvania.

This post was updated at 4:57 pm April 27, 2016

Tags Hillary Clinton Michelle Obama

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