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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Laurie Pryor (DFL)

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RELEASE: House Higher Ed. panel holds hearing on Pryor bill expanding student loan refinancing

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

ST. PAUL, Minn- On Tuesday, the Minnesota House Higher Education and Career Readiness Policy and Finance Committee heard a bill authored by Rep. Laurie Pryor (DFL – Minnetonka) to enable more Minnesotans to refinance their student loans and lower their monthly payments. The bipartisan measure, HF 1500, expands Minnesota’s SELF Refi program which was launched in 2016. The current program affords Minnesotans the ability to refinance their student loans, but has restrictions that prevent many from participating.

“Because of rapidly rising tuition over the last decade and a half, Minnesotans carry the fifth highest average student debt loads in the nation,” Rep. Pryor said. “With so many people buried under this debt, it can have rippling effects through the rest of the economy and by expanding SELF Refi and lowering loan payments, we can give Minnesotans more economic security for themselves and their families.”

Currently, the SELF Refi program has several restrictions, including a minimum credit score and debt to income requirements. This has limited the number of Minnesotans able to take advantage of the program. Rep. Pryor’s bill would adjust some of these restrictions, opening the door to more individuals to receive relief from student debt burdens.

Rep. Pryor noted that while her bill will give Minnesotans relief from student loan debt, it’s up to the Legislature to take bolder actions ensuring Minnesotans can afford to attend college.

“For many young people going to college is one step to reaching their hopes and dreams, and especially during a time of budget surplus, we shouldn’t be further increasing the cost of a degree,” she said. “I’m willing to work across the aisle to make higher education funding a priority, and hope we can make the right investments to provide students with the right knowledge and skills so they can be on a pathway to success in a career of their choice.”

This was Rep. Pryor’s first presentation of a bill in front of a committee since joining the Legislature. The bill was laid over for possible inclusion in the Omnibus Higher Education Finance Bill, which will be considered later this session.