Pa. AG Josh Shapiro and Sen. Lindsey Williams: ‘We’re trying to deliver concrete results’ on student loan debt

    Pa. Attorney General Josh Shapiro (center) holds a town hall on student loan debt at the University of Pittsburgh. He was joined by state Sen. Lindsey Williams, D-Allegheny (left).

    Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro traveled to Pittsburgh Friday to hear from University of Pittsburgh students and alumni, as well as others, on the problems they’re having paying their student loan debt. According to Shapiro’s office, loan debt is “growing faster than any other U.S. financial market,” tripling to $1.5 trillion over the last 10 years.

    Shapiro, joined by state Sen. Lindsey Williams, listened as students reeled off tales of crushing debt. They included one young man from Philadelphia, who described himself as a “first-generation college student” whose family found the experience of paying for college, and contending with loan debt, “entirely new.” At one point, the young man had to stop to compose himself.

    Shapiro, who’s pursuing litigation against one of the country’s biggest loan servicers, told the crowd at Friday’s forum that he’d formed a new consumer financial protection unit within his office two years ago to deal with such issues.

    “The work I’m doing on these issues is a direct result of pleas. We’re trying to deliver concrete results in the form of money back to students,” he said.

    Williams, a Democrat who represents the 38th District in Pittsburgh and its northern suburbs, said her legislative colleagues were “stunned” when she told them she was still trying to pay down tens of thousands of dollars in loan debt. Williams said she, along with fellow Allegheny County Democratic Reps. Summer Lee, Sara Innamorato, and Austin Davis, “have lived” the students’ struggles.

    “I owe more than when I started paying it,” she said. “There are colleagues [in the House Democratic Caucus], it’s not their experience. They need to hear from you.”

    Watch the full video below:

    An award-winning political journalist with more than 25 years' experience in the news business, John L. Micek is The Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. Before joining The Capital-Star, Micek spent six years as Opinion Editor at PennLive/The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa., where he helped shape and lead a multiple-award-winning Opinion section for one of Pennsylvania's most-visited news websites. Prior to that, he spent 13 years covering Pennsylvania government and politics for The Morning Call of Allentown, Pa. His career has also included stints covering Congress, Chicago City Hall and more municipal meetings than he could ever count, Micek contributes regular analysis and commentary to a host of broadcast outlets, including CTV-News in Canada and talkRadio in London, U.K., as well as "Face the State" on CBS-21 in Harrisburg, Pa.; "Pennsylvania Newsmakers" on WGAL-8 in Lancaster, Pa., and the Pennsylvania Cable Network. His weekly column on American politics is syndicated nationwide to more than 800 newspapers by Cagle Syndicate.

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