BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Beginning Aug. 1, state licensing boards will no longer be able to put Louisianans out of work for defaulting on their student loans or making late payments.
“It was a harsh, punitive provision that didn’t have any real benefits,” Davante Lewis, with the Louisiana Budget Project (LBP), said. “If people lose their ability to work, they also lose their ability to pay back a loan.”
Lewis teamed up with Rep. Julie Emerson, R-Carencro, to change the policy that the legislature enacted in the late 1980s to encourage timely student loan payment.
Skyrocketing student debt changed the conversation. By 2017, LBP reports that 48% of four-year Louisiana graduates left school with some debt. On average, those graduates owed $27,210.
That same year, the state nursing board alone revoked 87 licenses for defaulted or delinquent loans. In 2019, Louisianans owe a combined $20.4 billion to banks and organizations that finance student loans, according to the federal reserve.
“Mortgage is high. Childcare is high. Cost of living is high. Then they take away your ability to work,” Lewis said. “How can you pay that loan back?”
The legislature passed the bill banning the practice, 130-14.