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.”
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