Blumenthal holds round table to discuss solutions to student loan debt

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NEW HAVEN – "Our goal, as a nation, ought to be debt free college."

That was one of Sen. Richard Blumenthal's  talking points at a meeting Friday morning with a group of college students and administrators. He was there to discuss his solutions for sky-rocketing college costs.

Blumenthal suggests rewarding people who choose careers in public service. “By enabling them to work down, in fact, erase debt through their public service.”

Currently, under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, some individuals may qualify for forgiveness of their remaining loan balance after making 10 years of on-time payments.

“The loans pile up, especially with interest,” said Angelique Boyd, a sophomore at Southern Connecticut State University. “They can be close to $70,000 that you have to pay back.”

Boyd began attending college out of state. “But, because of the growing loans and how much I would have to pay back when I graduated, I decided it probably would be better if I stayed in state.”

Blumenthal called student loan debt today crushing.

“They have risen by 300 percent as compared to when I went to college,” Blumenthal noted.

For Connecticut residents, undergraduate tuition for students living on campus at one of the four state universities costs between $20,000 and $22,000 annually.

“They can't start families, begin businesses, buy new homes and that's bad for our economy,” says Blumenthal.

Blumenthal says he and nine other legislators are pushing hard in Washington.

“We need more scholarships and grants so that we really move toward debt-free college,” said the senator. “But, we also must reduce interest rates on college loans.”

Boyd says people she knows have chosen not to attend college because of the crippling costs.