State treasurer seeks suggestions on lowering student debt

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — More than two million people in Illinois have student debt. Now, state leaders are working on ways to lower that number. Treasurer Michael Frerichs visited the University of Illinois today to talk about how to do it.

This is part of a new law called the Student Loan Investment Act. It gives the treasurer $750 million to lower student loan debt. That program could help up to 50,000 families in the state. They’re still figuring out how to split up the money, and forums like this one will help with that.

Something they talked about today was re-financing options for student loan debt. The average student debt is around $18,000 dollars. At today’s discussion, panelists talked about ways to make this better. They also included a student who is getting her education right now, and is taking out loans to do so.

“We know that we have a student debt crisis here in this country. Students have about $1.6 trillion in debt. The state treasurer’s office – we’re looking to invest in our students. We’ve come here today to the University of Illinois to get some ideas to listen, to find the best ways of doing that,” said state treasurer Michael Frerichs.

One of the points made at today’s forum is that helping with student debt has a ripple affect. People who have a lot of it are slower to buy homes, start businesses or make other investments. The cost of school could also make someone decide not to get their degree altogether.

Today’s was the first stop of several throughout the state where a forum like this will be hosted. The treasurer is headed to Decatur next.

The first investment of that $750 million won’t happen this year. It will likely happen in 2021.

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