Lawmakers Propose Student Loan Help

SCRANTON, Pa. -- Lawmakers in Harrisburg have proposed a bill that would reduce interest rates for college grads making monthly student loan payments.

Sometimes what worries college students most isn't that next exam but how they'll pay for their education when they're out in the real world.

At Marywood University, advisors say loan repayment is something they discuss with students from the very beginning of their college careers.

"What we encourage students to do is really read about their loans, read the contract so they're fully versed in what they're getting into because they'll be paying it back, pretty much a long time," said Senior Director of Admissions Matthew Herr.

A proposal from state senators in Harrisburg aims to ease the burden of student loans for close to 30,000 students in Pennsylvania.

It's called PA Student HELP (Higher Education Lending Protection). It would allow college grads to refinance federal and private loans with the state and pay two percent less in interest.

It also makes $500 tax credits available to people paying off student loans.

Marywood's financial aid advisor says private lenders have already started similar programs, and she warns students about leaving the federal loan system.

"I think the intent of the loan is good, and the interest rate seems like it's great, but just again, what are they losing and what are they gaining?" said Director of Financial Aid Barbara Schmitt.

For students at Marywood University, what they'll eventually pay in student loans is something they start worrying about as early as their freshman year.

"I think that it's definitely something that is needed. It's going to be very helpful to a bunch of students, maybe not so much everyone who already paid off their student loans, but freshmen, everyone, that's something a lot of us think about, how are we going to pay off our loans," said freshman Raven Mulea.

State senators proposing PA Student HELP say the cost of the $80 million a year program will be made up when those college grads who each have a little more money in their pockets start spending it.

"Students are graduating from college, and they're not able to buy homes, which is the biggest thing, and they're not able to put their disposable income into the economy because of their student loan payments," said Schmitt.

PA Student HELP will still need to pass the state legislature and be signed by the governor to become law.

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