Connecticut must guide students with college debt

With the cost of attendance rising, current and future students at the University of Connecticut and other post-secondary institutions are having to rely on loans to fund their education. In Massachusetts, the Attorney General is dedicating resources to help guide student borrowers through the process of repaying loans to bridge the gap left by lackadaisical loan servicers, as reported by the Washington Post.

With tuition increasing regularly across Connecticut universities, the state must follow in Massachusetts’ footsteps and create a service to help student borrowers.

Repaying burdensome college debt has become an arduous reality for graduates as the cost of attendance continues to rise. Tuition has risen at a higher rate than inflation across universities and colleges. According to a report from CNBC, Harvard’s tuition rose to $45,278 or “more than 17 times the 1971-72 cost." The report calculated that “if annual increases had simply tracked the inflation rate…tuition would be…$15,189.” Tuition at UConn continues to rise as well, with the Board of Trustees considering new tuition hikes to cover a “$40.2 million budget gap” according to the Daily Campus

The Washington Post report also discussed the unscrupulous nature of many debt servicers and so-called debt counsellors, whose advertisements often “give the false impression that the companies [are] connected to the federal government.” Student debt is an unfortunate reality associated with rising college costs. The loss of a substantial portion of state funding for UConn in recent years has created an increased reliance on student loans. Thus, there must be a concerted effort to aid students in repaying loans and finding reputable debt counsellors. 

Earlier this year, Governor Malloy signed Public Act 15-162, otherwise known as the “Student Loan Bill of Rights” into law. This act ensures “oversight and regulatory authority over every aspect of the student loan process by requiring the licensing of student loan servicers” while also protecting “Connecticut citizens from unfair lending and collection practices.” This law is a positive step towards creating the same system being prepared in Massachusetts. However, the state must work to ensure that these systems are user-friendly and accessible to student borrowers. Protection and oversight are valuable only if student borrowers are able to access these services easily and find resolution to potential issues. 

Connecticut is home to many institutions of higher education, including the University of Connecticut. With tuition on the rise, student loans are becoming an unfortunate necessity in the pursuit of a post-secondary degree. As such, Connecticut must follow in Massachusetts’ example and create a borrower-friendly system to help guide student borrowers through the process of repayment and continue to eliminate any potentially poisonous business practices from the student-debt servicer and counselor industry.