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Loan refinance bill would ease ‘debt sentence’ for Nevada students


A bill from state Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford that would refinance certain student loans met with no opposition Monday during a Government Affairs Committee meeting.

“Many Nevadans are currently living a debt sentence, with no end in sight,” Annette Magnus, executive director for Battle Born Progress, said in support of the bill. “All people who choose to further their education should be able to refinance at lower interest rates to get out of debt sooner.”

Ford cited statistics from the National Conference of State Legislatures that show the number of students borrowing money for higher education increased 89 percent between 2004 and 2014.

The Las Vegas Democrat said refinancing student loan debt is comparable to refinancing a mortgage and a “logical way to save Nevadans real money.”

In its initial form, Ford said, the bill would be paid for by revenue bonds. But he said during Monday’s hearing that he would amend the bill to be a pilot program and revise the funding mechanism.

Ford said state Treasurer Dan Schwartz has demonstrated a willingness to work with him in a bipartisan fashion since the last legislative session. Ford presented a similar bill — the Student Loan Relief Act — in 2015.

“The treasurer has been there, front and center, willing to make this program work,” Ford said.

He said he would also like to limit the amount that each person could refinance to allow for more people to take advantage of the program.

Maggie Thompson, executive director for Generation Progress — a national organization that works with young people to promote progressive solutions to political and social issues — asked that the program limit eligibility to only those with private or Parent-PLUS loans.

The bill includes a provision that would require the director of the program to publish a list of private lending institutions ranked according to interest rates and repayment requirements. The bill also would require the Nevada System of Higher Education to provide each college applicant the cost of attendance, financial aid available for each student, current interest rates and the rate of default on student loans during the preceding 10 years.

Contact Natalie Bruzda at nbruzda@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3897. Follow @NatalieBruzda on Twitter.