Palestinian Authority Auditor General calls for independent student loan lawyer
Pennsylvania lawmakers should create an independent student loan advocate to help educate consumers and promote higher education reforms in Keystone state, the state auditor proposed on Thursday as he unveiled a package of three recommendations.
Auditor General Eugene DePasquale announced the recommendations as he unveiled his new report, “Empowering College Borrowers”.
“Pennsylvania has one of the highest… amounts of student debt in the entire country,” DePasquale said at a news conference, noting that state residents have $ 68 billion in student loan debt. dollars.
“The average debt per borrower is almost $ 37,000, the second highest level in the entire country,” added DePasquale. “And, it’s not just a Pennsylvania problem. Nationally, there is an estimate [$]1.5 trillion in outstanding student debt, more than double what it was ten years ago. Clearly, we have a major problem.
As part of his proposal, DePasquale wants lawmakers to restructure the board of directors of the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA). He called for fewer lawmakers and more members of the private sector to sit on the board.
The new recommendations follow a 2008 special performance audit conducted by former Auditor General Jack Wagner. The previous report also called on the PHEAA, which the Pennsylvania General Assembly established in 1963, to reduce the number of legislators on its board of directors.
The proposed advocate would help students navigate the world of higher education funding, including those who may have a dispute with a loan service provider. In March, State Representative Jennifer O’Mara, D-Delaware, introduced HB 2360, which would have created a student loan ombudsperson.
During his press conference, DePasquale also cited several states that, since 2017, have instituted student loan advocates, including Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, Nevada, Virginia and Washington. DePasquale suggested the new post should be part of the Pennsylvania Treasury because it is “an independent office that already manages a college savings plan,” according to a press release.
DePasquale also called on the PHEAA to continue to monitor its spending. He wants the agency to direct as much money as possible towards its primary mission. According to the new report, the changes made by the PHEAA following the 2008 findings resulted in savings of more than $ 74 million.
“It’s about trying to make more money available to invest directly in students,” DePasquale said. “… As the previous special performance audit recommended, every penny you can make available to help secure scholarships for students going to school is less money they have to borrow.” .
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