05012018CM0406SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is working with Attorney General Lisa Madigan to protect student loan borrowers from losing professional licenses as they work to pay off their debt.

Senate Bill 2439 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. The measure passed out of the Senate today.

“There are many things we can do to collect debt for student loans, but taking away someone’s livelihood is counterproductive, to say the least,” Bennett said. “This bill will end this punitive practice and protect licensed professional from becoming trapped in insurmountable debt.”

Under the current law, state officials reserve the right to suspend or revoke a person’s occupational license for defaulting on student loan payments. Teachers, dieticians, marriage and family therapists, veterinarians and engineers are among the dozens of occupations affected by this law.

Illinois is one of 19 states that revoke licenses due to student loan debt. Additionally, 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.

“For many people, the reward of a fulfilling career is what makes an investment in higher education worth it,” Bennett said. “We need to protect that investment and ensure that borrowers can stay current on their payments – instead of severely punishing them when they fall behind.” 

SB 2439 passed with bipartisan support and will now move to the House for consideration.

 

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