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California student loan ReLIEF Act takes aim at crushing debt

Posted at 2:59 PM, Apr 18, 2017

SAN DIEGO (KGTV)--California State Treasurer John Chiang announced Tuesday that he has co-sponsored a senate bill aimed at helping graduates manage their student loan debt. 

"Student loan debt is a toxin to the American dream," Chiang said. "It prevents people from buying a home, starting a business or saving for retirement." 

SB 674, called the ReLIEF (Loan Improvement for Enhanced Futures) Act, could lower monthly payments, shorten payment terms and reduce total interests for eligible Californians.

It was introduced by Sen. Ben Allen who said the debt has become a crushing burden on too many people. 

"The ReLIEF Act will create an incentive for banks to refinance loans at favorable rates from lenders," Allen said. 

But some people feel the effort doesn't go far enough. 

Lynn Marie Morski graduated from St. Louis School of Medicine and Thomas Jefferson School of Law with $235,000 worth of student loan debt. Her monthly payment is $1,200. 

"With interest they're up over $250,000," Morski said. "I will be well into retirement by the time I pay it off."

Morski said that while she appreciates any attempt to make the loan repayment process less taxing on people "the proposition that Senator Allen has come up with just doesn't go far enough," she told 10News reporter Rachel Bianco. 

How do you know if you're eligible for help under the ReLIEF Act?

  1. The borrower must be a California resident
  2. Borrower must have an associates, bachelors, graduate or professional degree, or trade, career, or technical certificate, diploma or degree
  3. Borrower must have worked for an employer for at least six continuous months
  4. Borrower must be current on their student loan payments

But there are things you can do to alleviate the rising cost of higher education. 

Cal-Grant offers free tuition to students at San Diego State Univesity or any other Cal State or UC system school up to $10,000.

Millions in outside scholarships are also handed out every year, as well. For more information, visit: studentaid.ed.gov.

Sandy Coronilla is a KGTV digital producer. Follow her @10NewsSandy