U.S. Rep. Hansen Clarke says he is putting the finishing touches on legislation to simply student loan repayment for college graduates an ensure they enter the workforce free from the burden of overwhelming debt.
The Detroit Democrat carried a rough draft of the bill on the House floor this week, urging his colleagues to help him "responsibly reduce student loan debt" and "give graduates the chance they deserve -- a chance to enjoy the American Dream."
MLive.com spoke with Clarke Tuesday evening after his speech. While he's still ironing out technical details, he hopes to help graduates avoid compounding interest that can grow their debt or result in unmanageable monthly payments.
"They're still going to have to repay their loan, but changes are needed because student debt is approaching $1 trillion, and on top of that nearly half of our graduates aren't working," he said. "Even if they are, they're struggling to make payments, so they fall behind and they are charged interest on top of interest and their principle ends up growing larger and larger.
"It has become financial servitude for many of our citizens who actually have the training to go into business or the wherewithal to buy their own homes. Because of student debt, many can't do either."
Clarke expects to introduce the legislation "in a couple weeks," and we'll certainly fill you in on the details when he does. Separately, he is working on a "student loan bill of rights" that, among other things, would allow graduates to extinguish student debt should they file for bankruptcy.
"I think overall, an educated workforce really helps our economy compete effectively globally," he said. "Cutting student loan debt would be a big stimulus for this country."