Vermont House asks Congress to let students file for bankruptcy

With national student loan debt tripling to more than $1 trillion over the past decade and Vermont’s graduates stuck with the highest debt-to-earnings ratio, state lawmakers are urging Congress to let students file for bankruptcy.

On Monday, members of the Vermont House gave preliminary approval to J.R.H. 27, a joint resolution that calls for “federal action to alleviate the national student loan debt crisis.” Federal bankruptcy code prohibits student loan borrowers from declaring bankruptcy in most cases.

“The General Assembly requests Congress to amend the federal bankruptcy code to eliminate the prohibition on relief from federal or private student loan debt through the federal bankruptcy system,” the resolution states.

J.R.H. 27 highlights sobering statistics illustrating the scope of problem. Nationwide, almost 7 million student loan borrowers, or 17 percent, are in default as of summer 2015. This is up 400,000 defaults, or 6 percent, compared to 2014. Student loan debt tripled between 2005 and 2015, rising to $1.19 trillion, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Consumer Credit Panel.

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