Illinois Senate Approves Bill to Protect Student Loan Borrowers

May 3, 2018

A central Illinois lawmaker is working with Attorney General Lisa Madigan to protect student loan borrowers from losing professional licenses as they work to pay off their debt.

The bill - sponsored by Senator Scott Bennett of Champaign - would prevent Illinois licensing agencies that regulate 38 professions from denying, revoking or suspending licenses to individuals who are in default on their student loans.

"It's something I hear every single day. 'Hey, I'd like to buy a house, but the money that should go to my mortgage is going to my student debt. I could buy a new car to help the economy.' It's going to a place to pay for their old degrees."

He says that doesn't make sense.

"There's no question they can't pay back that debt if they lose their job. So, to have a teacher, an engineer, a veterinarian, lose their license because they can't pay their student debt. It's just counterproductive."

Illinois is one of 19 states that revoke licenses due to student loan debt. More than 60 percent of Illinois' four-year college graduates from the class of 2016 had college debt, according to the Institution for College Access and Success.

The measure now moves to the House for further consideration.