Help is on the way for Virginians struggling with student loan debt. In June, Governor Northam signed a bill establishing a Student Loan Ombudsman for the Commonwealth, an office that will serve as a one-stop shop for borrowers to go to when they need unbiased advice on how to navigate their student loan repayments.
This is good news for the one million Virginians who collectively owe $30 billion on student loans. People who have accrued student debt face myriad options when it comes to repayment. In fact, many people will default on their student loan repayments within three years of graduating. The state Student Loan Ombudsman will help Virginia borrowers stay on top of their loans and protect their financial security.
I Graduated from College with Serious Debt
When I completed my undergraduate degree at Virginia Commonwealth University, I felt doomed instead of excited about the future.
I was 21 years old and had no idea how I was going to pay off more than $20,000 in student loan debt. I had never owed that kind of money to anyone before and it was soul crushing thinking about how I would pay it off. To make things more confusing, various student loan servicers were targeting me with ads about different repayment plans and how to lower my interest rate.
It sure would have helped if I had someone who I could trust to assist me in understanding the various options offered to me! There are plenty of scammers and predatory companies out there taking advantage of people with student loan debt.
It can be complicated to wade through the sea of information around income-based repayment plans, forgiveness programs, loan consolidation and economic forbearance options.
Companies like Navient Corporation, which is being sued by attorneys general from three different states for harming student loan borrowers throughout the repayment process, are eager to profit off student loan debt.
Don’t Fall Victim to Predatory Scammers, Get Help
Virginia’s Student Loan Ombudsman will serve as an impartial and trustworthy resource for borrowers to evaluate their options and remain current on their loans. The ombudsman will also be tasked with creating a student loan education course to provide borrowers with clear and easily understandable information about repayment options, in addition to speaking with borrowers and loan officers to help guide them through the details of repayment.
America’s student loan debt crisis is getting worse every year.
Nationally, student loan debt tops $1.4 trillion. According to the Institute for College Access and Success, 56 percent of Virginia’s college graduates finish school with an average debt load of $29,296.
Americans owe more in student loans than credit card and car loans. Many Americans have to choose between making their student loan payments and buying groceries. Heck, many Americans can’t even fathom buying a house these days because a lot of their income is dedicated toward their monthly student loan payment.
Fortunately, I didn’t fall victim to any predatory student loan servicers and I paid my undergraduate student debt off in ten years. Regrettably, the pursuit of a higher education means going into debt and unless you’re rich, which you’re probably not, you’re going to have to take out student loans to pay for school. People shouldn’t be punished for wanting to do better for themselves and they shouldn’t have to worry about unethical companies taking advantage of them while paying for their education.
The Student Loan Ombudsman Is Just the First Step in Justice for Indebted Virginians
Virginia’s Student Loan Ombudsman is a step in the right direction in helping hard-working residents who are saddled with unaffordable student loan debt. Next up? Passing a Borrower’s Bill of Rights, which would offer more protections for Virginians paying off their student loans. Stay tuned for more news on that front.
In the meantime, share this blog and celebrate our progressive wins thus far, all thanks to people like you who make sure that progressive legislators are on hand to fight for our issues!