February 5, 2019
Denver, CO – The Colorado State Senate today voted 25-to-10 to pass SB19-057, the Employee Information Student Loan Repayment Programs Act, a bill that requires the state to distribute informational materials concerning loan repayment and loan forgiveness programs to state employees. The bill now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.
“I hope this bill will provide much needed debt relief to students across Colorado and encourage more individuals to enter or stay in crucial public service careers like teaching,” said Senator Tammy Story, Senate prime co-sponsor.
The bill was introduced to address the large amount of student loan debt and high student loan default rates in Colorado. As of 2017, student loan debt in the state reached $26.4 billion, and Colorado ranks 36th in the nation on average student debt, with the average borrower carrying $36,032 in debt.
Many Coloradans who have federal student loans qualify for loan repayment programs that allow for lower monthly payments, or allow borrowers to have their loans forgiven after working for a certain period of time in the public sector, as a teacher, or for a nonprofit public service organization. Unfortunately, only an estimated one percent of eligible borrowers are aware of and accurately tracking their payments and employment.
“The State of Colorado must do more to support its employees who are faced with mounting student debt,” said Majority Leader Fenberg. “This is an important step in ensuring Coloradans who qualify for federal student loan repayment programs have access to the information they need.”
As a public sector employer, Colorado can help employees access federal loan repayment and loan forgiveness programs by providing information about these programs. The bill requires the Department of Personnel to develop and annually distribute informational materials to state employees concerning federal student loan repayment programs and loan forgiveness programs for which state employees may be eligible.
This is the first in a series of bills that Majority Leader Fenberg is sponsoring to address the student debt crisis in Colorado. The Regulate Student Education Loan Act, which seeks to provide more oversight over student loan servicers will be heard in the Senate Education Committee this Thursday.
For more information about SB19-057, please visit: http://leg.colorado.gov/bills/sb19-057.