New York student loan borrowers carry a median debt of $19,000 — amounting to some $90 billion owed. And, with a federal student loan repayment moratorium set to expire at the end of the month, state lawmakers are considering ways of easing the burden.
"This is something that really burdens students when they graduate," said state Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara. "It stops them from achieving their dreams, everything they went to school for."
Santabarbara is backing a bill that would create a state personal income tax deduction of up to $5,000 for student loan payments.
"This is a bill that I think is a step in the right direction," he said. "It's not the entire solution."
The bill is necessary amid the twin uncertainties of the federal government's waning moratorium and the national economy, Santabarbara said.
"The states need to take action because the federal government's pause on student loan debt is set to expire at the end of the month," he said. "That's something people are concerned with. Considering the economic times, it's time for the state to take action."
Brian Backstrom, who studies education issues at the State University of New York's Rockefeller Institute of Government, said there's no one demographic that is affected by debt.
"Lower income students tend to borrow more than higher income students," he said. "But you also see higher income students tending to go to graduate school and more than 40% of all student debt is held by the 16% of students who are graduates."
And the best bang for a student's buck remains attending a public college or university.
"In New York state, almost half of graduates from SUNY schools graduate without any debt at all," he said.
Backstrom also pointed to a Federal Reserve study that found 73% of student loan borrowers report doing well financially — an increase from before the pandemic.