The race to solve the student debt crisis continues, with even more pressure mounting in the buildup to the 2016 presidential election.
Things have gotten so crazy, that for one proposal, the rare feat of bipartisanship may even be on the horizon.
According to Wonkblog's Danielle Douglas-Gabriel, "a coalition of liberal and conservative lawmakers" are pushing for a new plan that would "force colleges to pay up when their students default."
Essentially, what these lawmakers are hoping is that by putting some of the burden of default onto the universities themselves, schools would feel more of a responsibility to make sure their students have the proper counseling and help they need to pay back their loans. Schools might also be more vigorous in promoting certain scholarships that go unused, or provide training on how to better manage student loan debt.
Such a proposal has been in the works, in some form or another, according to Douglas-Gabriel, since 2013, when a bill was proposed that would require schools with default rates over 15 percent to "reimburse the government 5 percent of the total defaulted debt," Douglas-Gabriel explained. "The higher the default rate, the higher the penalty."
But as Douglas-Gabriel also notes, the proposal isn't without its faults, and it even has some economists worried.
"I can’t even begin to contemplate how to deal with the administrative horror show that would ensue when thousands of individual debt obligations are transferred from one payer to the next on a onesy-twosy basis," Credit.com's Mitchell D. Weiss wrote last year, commenting specifically about using bankruptcy laws to transfer the burden of default to universities. "That is yet another example of formulating policy without taking the time to fully consider how the underlying process actually works."
Besides the administrative problems, there are also those who worry that making the burden of default harder on the schools themselves might create a disincentive for schools to accept students who require a larger amount of student loan debt, therefore likely turning away more students that come from more modest incomes.
But there is a catch to such an outcome. As I wrote last month, those who have less student loan debt are actually more likely to default than those who have more dramatically high loans.
Hopefully, if such a bill were to pass or pick up steam, it would instead work to incentivize schools to find ways to lower costs.
You can read the rest of Douglas-Gabriel's report at The Washington Post's Wonkblog.
JJ Feinauer is a writer for Deseret News National. Email: [email protected], Twitter: jjfeinauer.