Bill before Congress to help combat student loan debt

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WASHINGTON (CBS19 NEWS) -- A piece of legislation before the U.S. House aims to help college graduates deal with student debt.

The Student Security Act of 2017 gives graduates loan forgiveness for allowing their full-retirement age for Social Security benefits to be increased.

It would allow $550 in loan forgiveness, which about the average cost for one credit hour at a public university, in exchange for raising the participant's retirement age by one month. This equals $6,600 for each year a participant delays getting their benefits.

Under the legislation, participants can get a maximum of $40,150 in debt relief, which would mean they would not be able to claim Social Security benefits for six years and one month past the normal retirement age.

Congressman Tom Garrett (R-Virginia) says Congress has not shown much urgency to address the millions of Americans across the country who are struggling to pay $1.3 trillion in student debt.

"No one can deny that millions of Americans face tens-of-thousands of dollars in debt-per-student. These economic pressures inhibit key life events, like home-buying, starting a family, and worst of all, harnessing ideas and starting businesses," he said. "If we fail to take substantive steps to change course, we will lose much of the potential from this generation. This loss would be devastating, as too would be the loss of its energy, ideas, and vision that create jobs and opportunity."

Garrett also says the Social Security Administration projects that the Student Security Program would save more than $700 billion of the lifetime of the program, which would be more than 11 percent of the amount needed to keep Social Security solvent.

"The time for action is now," said Garrett. "This debt is a huge threat to America. Without action, opportunity and themselves hang in the balance. I will not stand idly by as Social Security goes bankrupt and Millennials drown in debt."

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