Student loan crisis: Politicians grapple with staggering student loan debt, just like the rest of us
Some influential politicians are grappling with staggering student loan debt – over $ 200,000 in two cases and several more with college loan obligations over $ 100,000, the Florida Phoenix found.
The full college debt tab is $ 2.35 million for elected members of the state House and Senate, as well as the governor and cabinet officials, based on forms disclosures that detail the assets and liabilities of politicians.
Data often goes unnoticed, and not all residents would take the time to read the disclosure forms. But politicians’ student debt creates a picture of massive student debt that transcends political parties and changes people’s economic lives.
With voters heading to the polls ahead of election day, student loan debt is on the radar, not only for lawmakers, but also for students, college kids and parents who continue to cut their own. debt.
Earlier this month, the Federal Reserve released data showing student debt at $ 1.676 trillion, up from around $ 1.3 trillion in 2015.
That number is hard for ordinary people to imagine, let alone politicians who can push for legislation to help reduce loan debt or prevent people from defaulting.
Two South Florida Democrats in the Legislature, both lawyers, reported the highest college debt in disclosure forms – State House Member Daniel Daley, at $ 243,671, and Nicholas Duran, at $ 205,198.
Those with lower debt amounts, around $ 80.00 and under, include Democratic Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, at $ 73,585; the new president of the GOP House, Chris Sprowls, at $ 57,582; Republican State Senator Manny Diaz, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, at $ 49,225; and Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, at $ 25,830.
“As someone who always pays off student loans, I can tell you firsthand that anything we can do at the state or federal level to reduce the burden of student debt should be a top priority.” , said Commissioner Fried.
“With a growing share of jobs requiring a college degree, working families shouldn’t be forced into debt to pay for what has become almost essential for our country’s workforce. Tackling the problem of student debt can boost the U.S. economy, help us move forward on racial inequalities, as we know black and Latino students are disproportionately affected, and solve an issue that has hampered opportunities for students. younger generations. “
No funds for rainy days
In Duran’s case, he took out loans to pay for his law studies.
“That’s a lot of debt – $ 1,500 a month,” Duran said. However, “I’m lucky. The job I have is stable work, ”said Duran, executive director of a Florida nonprofit.
He said he was able to pay his bills, although he admitted he found himself in a situation where he had to pay his student loans late.
He and his family are currently renting a house. And with its high student loan debt, “It doesn’t make it easy to prepare for a rainy day fund,” Duran said.
Duran was the original sponsor of the legislation that Governor DeSantis signed this summer. Called the “Keep our Graduates Working Act of 2020,” the legislation allows Floridians who have graduated from an accredited college or university to retain their state licenses and remain in the workforce while paying off their student loans.
Licenses consist of a “professional license, certificate, registration or permit granted by the competent public authority”. Duran said this would include a license to practice law.
The law states that a state authority “may not refuse a license, refuse to renew a license, or suspend or revoke a license it has issued to a person who is in default or overdue in the payment of its student loans solely on the basis of that default or default.
The legislative analysis of the measure showed the reality of the situation in Florida: the increase in student debt has led to an increase in the number of people in default.
“In 2018, 41,013 borrowers who attended schools in Florida, ranging from universities to trade schools, defaulted on their federal student loans,” the analysis says.
As for non-politicians, it is also a struggle.
Allison Parish received a BA in Psychology from Florida State University and a Minor in Special Education. She was fortunate enough to survive financially for her undergraduate studies, but took loans of at least $ 28,000 for a master’s program.
She graduated in 1998 and is still paying off her student loans, with approximately $ 5,300 remaining. She is a program manager for a statewide nonprofit organization.
“I can see the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Parish, although challenges lie ahead. Her husband also has student loans and her two young boys are expected to go to college.
“How do we start saving, putting money aside for their college, when we haven’t even paid ours?” Asked the parish. She is preparing a prepaid schooling plan for the children, but cannot afford the amount for a four-year-old school.
“I don’t think the revenues keep up with the costs. So our dollar doesn’t go as far as our parents did. And I’m sure it’s going to keep getting worse. … The cost of college, I think, has increased exponentially, ”Parish said.
As for her children, “I hope they do well enough to get a scholarship, to help. “
Heraldyne Desravines is a registered nurse in South Florida who works two jobs to help pay off her student loans, which total around $ 60,000, she said. She wants to be a nurse practitioner, she added, but that would mean getting more loans.
She is a tenant now, but would like to own a house.
“You feel like you can never, ever catch up. Where is the American dream for us? said Desravines.
She is originally from Haiti and is an American citizen with the right to vote. She said she voted for former Vice President Joe Biden because she believed in his plan for a loan forgiveness and free tuition, among other measures.
Analysis by The Wall Street Journal presidential candidates shows that the Trump administration is concerned about excessive debt and is in favor of some debt forgiveness.
In 2019, Trump said, “Student loan debt. I’m going to work to fix it… because it’s outrageous what’s going on. We’re not giving you that good start.
Legislator’s student loan debt
The 32 lawmakers who declared student loan debt represent about 20 percent of members of the legislature as well as governor and cabinet officials. Thirteen are Republicans and 19 are Democrats, indicating that the student loan crisis is essentially non-partisan.
The lawmakers who reported student loan debt greater than $ 100,000 were all members of the State House and only two were Republicans. Those GOP lawmakers are Anthony Sabatini, with $ 138,403 and Daniel Perez, with $ 123,388.
The other members of this group were House Democrats: Kionne McGhee, at $ 195,000; Amy Mercado, at $ 187,789; Al Jacquet, at $ 171,395; Susan Valdes, at $ 131,145; Anika Omphroy, at $ 117,362; and Jennifer Webb, $ 111,000.
The Phoenix used numbers on student loan debt if they were specifically labeled as such, including information from major student loan management companies. Public information is based on assets and liabilities and net worth as of December 31, 2019, although politicians typically submit the forms around June 2020. The forms are called “full and public disclosure of financial interests”.
Those who want to see the data can go to a report Web page which makes it possible to search for the financial information of public officials.