As many of you know, I fought this spring to have $60,000 included in our fiscal 2019 operating budget to fund a market-demand study and cost analysis for a new county student loan refinance program, through which borrowers could refinance their college loans and save thousands of dollars. This summer, we solicited bids and received several from reputable vendors.
Our staff expects to rate the bids and award the contracts this month, with the actual studies getting underway shortly thereafter.
This is great news, as it means we’re on our way to helping our college borrowers ease their huge debt loads. The nation’s total student loan debt is now about $1.5 trillion — an enormous sum that’s crippling the ability of young professionals and their families to buy homes, start businesses, pursue graduate degrees and save for retirement.
Our county program would be similar to those that several states have run successfully for years. These programs are self-sustaining, with private activity bonds issued to refinance loans at lower interest rates; the borrowers’ monthly loan payments are used to pay off the bonds.
Not only do such programs help borrowers, they’ve been shown to boost the local economy. Businesses such as Microsoft use these public refinance programs to attract and retain employees.
By establishing the first such program run by a county in the U.S., Montgomery can become a national leader in this growing movement to help ease this burden on borrowers.
At a time when the Trump administration is doing what it can to hurt student borrowers — seeking to end the federal loan forgiveness program, siding with lenders over borrowers through its regulators — it’s more crucial than ever that the county step in to help.
You can sign a petition to support the proposal here.