According to the Washington Post, earlier this week Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill) called for rules to be changed regarding student loan debt being discharged in bankruptcy. At a judiciary hearing Durbin addressed what consumer groups are calling the nations next potential “debt bomb.” The Federal Reserve Bank of New York claims close to $900 billion dollars in student loans are owed by Americans. The outstanding amount is surpassing credit card debt and auto loans.The study also found that a quarter of borrowers had past-due balances. Lawmakers have been concerned about high default rates among students who attended private institutions. Data has shown that 15 percent defaulted in 2009 that attended for-profit schools. Another issue is the fact that student loan debt is being carried for decades. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that 5 percent of Americans 60 and older still have past-due student loan debt.
Durbin has been actively involved in getting support. He has sponsored legislation aiming to have private loans eliminated in bankruptcy along with holding town hall meetings on the issue. Along with many others, Durbin feels the problem is being ignored by Congress. Yet advocacy groups feel legislation isn’t enough. Lawyer Deanne Loonin with the National Law Center says all student loans should be eligible for discharge including federal and private. She works with consumers over the age of 80 who are having their Social Security checks garnished for outstanding student loans.