PA Student Debt Is Second Highest in the Nation. 2 Legislators Have Started a Coalition to Do Something About it.

Delaware County Democrat Rep. Jennifer O'Mara, (left )and Bucks County Republican Rep. Meghan Schroeder have organized an informal group of state lawmakers to attack Pennsylvania's student debt problem. Image via Ford Turner, The Morning Call.

Pennsylvania has the dubious honor of having the second highest amount of student debt in the nation, an average of $37,061 per student, writes Ford Turner for The Morning Call.

State residents have $68 billion in student debt.

Over 10 years, tuition increased 40 percent while higher education state funding dropped 5 percent.

“You hear stories of kids coming out of college paying $1,000 a month in loan payments,” said Rep. Steve Samuelson, a Northampton County Democrat. “It is crushing our young people. It is an issue we have to address.”

Two lawmakers new to the Legislature this year, 30-year-old Rep. Jennifer O’Mara , a Delaware County Democrat; and 33-year-old Meghan Schroeder, a Bucks County Republican, have created an informal group to hash out the issue.

Thirty two lawmakers have joined their “Student Debt Caucus,” even as various student debt bills await action in Harrisburg, from tax credits and limited forgiveness to refinancing.

O’Mara and Schroeder are looking for a package of legislation to address the problem.

Lack of student financial savviness, state under funding of higher education and problems in the student loan system all contribute to the debt, both legislators feel.

Read more about the student debt problem here.

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