Media Release: Student Loan Advocacy

Student loan borrowers have an advocate at the Washington Student Achievement Council

January 30, 2019

Olympia—Student loan borrowers can face daunting amounts of debt, and they often aren’t aware of the repayment options available to them. In Washington State alone, over 750,000 people have a combined total of more than $24.6 billion in student debt. Now, they have a new resource in the Washington Student Achievement Council’s (WSAC) Student Loan Advocate. 

“Washingtonians must get training and education after high school in order to get good jobs in our state,” said WSAC Executive Director Michael P. Meotti. “But getting a credential or degree shouldn’t jeopardize the financial security of borrowers and their families. The student loan advocate will play a vital role to ensure equitable repayment options for student loan borrowers.”

The student loan advocate is a new position stemming from state legislation, passed in 2018, to improve consumer protections for students. Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office requested the bill, known as the Student Loan Bill of Rights. 

"The Student Loan Advocate will be an incredible resource guiding students through the maze of student loans,” Ferguson said. “I look forward to partnering with the student loan advocate to protect Washington student borrowers when they're treated unfairly.”

WSAC’s student loan advocate will provide unbiased, reliable, and timely information to student loan borrowers about a variety of repayment issues. Some of these include student debt forgiveness or discharge, complaints with student loan servicers, and income-driven repayment. Learn more at www.wsac.wa.gov/loan-advocacy.  

Income-driven repayment allows borrowers with lower incomes to make lower monthly payments. But far more borrowers qualify than are taking advantage of this option, which can keep them from defaulting on student loans. Out of 45 million student loan borrowers nationwide, only 7.5 million are on an income-driven repayment plan. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, about 70 percent of borrowers in default could be eligible. 

Borrowers and potential borrowers also have to beware of student debt-relief scams. These scams are on the rise, costing student loan borrowers more than $95 million over a number of years. Now more than ever, it’s crucial for borrowers to arm themselves with good information. However, most free informational resources are only available online and often use complicated jargon. WSAC’s advocate will provide educational materials and be a direct resource for borrowers and potential borrowers, so they can make informed decisions. 

For more information about the effects of student debt on Washington’s local economies, visit the Urban Institute’s Debt in America: An Interactive Map (counties) and Mapping Student Debt (zip codes).  

About the Washington Student Achievement Council (WSAC)

The Washington Student Achievement Council is committed to increasing educational opportunities and attainment in Washington.