House calls for student loans to be forgiven in bankruptcy

ELISE DISMER WED, 04/09/2014 – 9:15PM

SPRINGFIELD—After a debate over where the lines of personal responsibility are drawn, the House went on record Wednesday urging Congress to allow student loans to be forgiven through bankruptcy.

House Resolution 620, proposed by Naomi Jakobsson, D-Urbana, advocated for the nation’s government to change its stance on bankruptcy rules. As it stands, student loan debt is the only type of consumer debt to be categorically excluded from protection under the federal bankruptcy code. 

“Students take out these loans in good faith,” Jakobbson said. “They want to get an education. We all want our population to be educated. And sometimes, sometimes, people fall on hard times.”

The non-binding resolution, which passed,  sparked debate on the House floor.

Rep. Dennis Reboletti, R-Elmhurst, who worked two jobs to pay for college, said this would promote the idea that college is a free ride.

“It’s the responsibility of this body and this state to make sure school’s affordable for everybody who wants to go, but they also have to work, too. That person has to be there,” Reboletti said. “But I guess what we’ll do is send the message that everything is free. It’s not. Somebody has to pay for it. There’s no free lunch, no free school. Somebody has to pay.”

Rep. David Harris, R-Arlington Heights, added that a student loan is inherently different than a loan on a house or car.

“If somebody has not paid their mortgage, what happens?” he asked Jakobbson.

“The bank gets the property,” she said.

“And if it’s a car loan and you don’t make the car loan, what happens?” he asked.

“The loaner gets the car,” she said.

“So on a student loan, if the payments aren’t made, what does the lender get?” Harris asked.

After a long pause, Jakobsson deflected the question, but Harris continued.

“All the other loans have some kind of security behind them,” he said. There’s no security behind these loans when they are made. Banks don’t lend money because you’re a nice guy.”

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