YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -
With millions of dollar at stake, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is taking aim at improving the process for collection of unpaid student loan debt.
The Attorney General says student loan debt has become a national issue, because of its impact on the lives of young people. "These debts are impacting how they live their lives. Sometimes they are postponing marriage, others are postponing having kids or buying a home, so it's a huge issue today, " DeWine said.
The AG says Ohio law mandates that his office collect unpaid student loan debt on behalf of the universities. One problem area is collecting on past due Perkins loans. The Bursar at Youngstown State University says Perkins loans assist needy students and repayment is important to sustaining the program.
"The federal government puts in a portion of the money and the university has a portion of that fund that is university owned. SO yes, what we are able to collect back is then being able to re-lend to other students, " said Bursar Gloria Kobus.
According to Kobus, Youngstown State has a good track record on defaults.
"YSU has one of the lowest default rates in Perkins loans and we work very hard to keep students in paid status, " Kobus said.
DeWine has formed an advisory group to take an in-depth look at the debt collection process. "We want to look, for example, at the uniformity of the policies, the fees and the penalties and how it compares from one college, one university to another, " DeWine said.
The Attorney General says it's also important to know if students are getting adequate education on the responsibilities connected with students loans and the options for re-payment.
Kobus says changes could be on the horizon, including the future of Perkins loans. "It may go away, it may go into another form, another loan program or grant program. So we're all waiting on pins and needles to see what the feds do, " Kobus said.