Republican-proposed bill could overhaul student loan process

CINCINNATI -- National lawmakers are looking to overhaul how students and their families take out loans, but early critics are questioning whether the changes would simply prevent people from going to college.

Republicans in the House of Representatives are expected to propose the PROSPER Act, also known as the Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity Through Education Reform Act.

The goal is to lighten the burden of student loans by preventing students from taking out more than they can handle and encouraging young people toward trade jobs. 

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How the bill plans to achieve that goal is where people disagree. For one, it puts a cap on the amount of debt students can take on.

"I've taken out student loans every year," said University of Cincinnati junior Asha Brogan. "Basically it's like I pray that I'll be able to get a good job and can start paying them back since it's within six months of graduation. ... my parents weren't able to afford college, so my sister, my brother and I are all on student loans."

Students on busy Calhoun Street outside of the University of Cincinnati were split on whether capping student loans would help or not.

"Depending on what you're going for and what the realistic job opportunities are going to be -- and your ability to pay it back -- I definitely think they should limit that," said law student Jeff Guiman.

Sophomore John Betousis disagreed.

"Allow students to take out loans, just be careful on who takes them out," he said.

WCPO's quick survey of students on the street found that most agreed with the proposed bill's plan to incentivize trade jobs. 

"More students are studying the arts or whatever and not the trades like plumbing or electricity, and that's going to be a major issue in our future when we don't have people to do those jobs," Brogan said.

The bill also plans to stop loan forgiveness options for public servants who have made payments on loans for 10 years, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, which these law students thought would hurt professionals.

Once the PROSPER Act is proposed, it could take up to a year before it passes through the legislative process, and as always, many changes could be made along the way.

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