Federal officials say student loan debt more than $1.5 trillion. (Photo courtesy Fotolia/TNS)
Photo: Handout/TNS
Photo: Handout/TNS

Bill aims to end penalty for some Georgians behind on student loans

Several Georgia lawmakers indicated Wednesday they support a bill that would prevent the state from revoking the business license of some former students who are behind in paying their student loans.

Georgia is one of a handful of states that can take such measures to pressure people into paying their loans, said state Rep. Scot Turner, R-Holly Springs, the lead sponsor of the legislation, House Bill 42.

Turner and other lawmakers said during a hearing before the state House of Representatives Higher Education committee hearing that tactic is not the best approach.

“This is not an effective way to collect debt,” Turner told the committee.

State Rep. Scot Turner, R - Holly Springs, introduced a bill meant to stop super liens in 2015. BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM
Photo: Johnny Edwards/The Watchdog blog

By some estimates, as many as 16,000 Georgians could be penalized. The law allows Georgia to revoke some professional licenses issued by the state to help the federal government collect student loan debt.

The last time Georgia enacted such measures was in 2015, according to House Bill 42 supporters. In one instance, they said, the person who owed money was a mother of six. The state has a payment plan system for some borrowers that some lawmakers said is more effective.

Committee chairman Rep. Chuck Martin, R-Alpharetta, said the current approach could restricts someone from running their business, which prevents them from making enough money to pay the loan.

“We want to be careful in taking (borrowers’) tools away,” he said.

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