Following a report showing that New Jersey has some of the most onerous state-level student loans in the country, gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy is calling for changes to the authority. Though Murphy has been the only candidate to announce his bid so far, he is expected to face a slew of other Democrats including Senate president Steve Sweeney (D-3) and Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop in the primary for 2017’s gubernatorial race.
On Sunday, the New York Times published an investigative piece where it found that student loans from the New Jersey Higher Education Student Assistance Authority have some of the most aggressive rules in the country when it comes to repayment — parental co-signers are still on the hook, even if the student dies.
In one of his campaign’s first explicit policy proposals, Murphy said he would change HESAA’s lending policies.
“It’s beyond comprehension that New Jersey would allow its student loan program to become something more akin to a rogue collection agency than an organization investing in the success of the next generation,” Murphy said in a statement. “This system cries out for reform. HESAA should be required to work with students and families to help them succeed, not strong-arm them into bankruptcy.”
The state also has some of the strictest rules in the country when comes to allowing students and co-signers to modify payment schedules, garnishing wages without court approval. Murphy intends to change the organization’s rules to follow other states’ examples by discharging loans when a borrower dies or becomes permanently disabled. Murphy also said he would require the agency to create workarounds for borrowers who lose their jobs and stop certain garnishments.
“The promise of a student loan is that you’ll be able to get ahead in life, yet HESAA has used rules that do nothing but hold too many back,” said Murphy. “For many students, getting a college degree is their ticket to joining the middle class and doing better than their parents. It’s time for HESAA to step up and work with those who seek its help, not against them.”