Wieckowski, students, student debt relief advocates call for passage of SB 16 at Sac State press conference

August 30, 2017

Sacramento – State Senator Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) , California State University students and advocates for student debt relief spoke in support of SB 16, the senator’s bill to assist Californians who default on private loans, today at a press conference at Sacramento State. The bill has already passed the Senate and is on the Assembly floor.

Wieckowski’s Senate Bill 16 lowers the cap private lenders can garnish from borrowers’ paycheck to 15 percent, the same as federal loan servicers.  Currently, private student loan creditors can take as much as 25 percent of a person’s paycheck.

“This bill not only affects students on this campus, but students on higher education campuses across California, in public and private higher education institutions,” said Senator Wieckowski, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a bankruptcy attorney.  “With student debt now eclipsing auto loan and credit card debt in America, I am proud of the diverse support for SB 16, including the recent endorsement of the California Democratic Party.”

Federal law prohibits student loan debt from being disposed of in bankruptcy.  More than 40 million Americans have student debt, totaling more than $1.3 trillion nationally, and outpacing credit card debt and auto loan debt.  The burden causes many graduates to postpone buying a home, getting married and starting a family.

Private loans generally do not offer students the range of repayment options or protection available with federal loans, such as deferring payments, cancelling or discharging part of a loan balance, or postponing payments.  Almost half of private loan borrowers could be using more affordable federal loans, according to The Institute for College Access and Success, another supporter of SB 16.

“I’m one of the approximately 160,000 nonprofit employees in California with student debt,” said Christina Dragonetti, the Nonprofit Student Debt Project manager of the California Association of Nonprofits.  “As a federal loan borrower, I can take advantage of repayment plans with low fixed interest rates, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, and a number of consumer protections. This is not true of my colleagues and classmates who got the same education but were forced to take out private loans.”

Senator Wieckowski represents the 10th District, which includes southern Alameda County and northeast Santa Clara County.