Some parents with kids in college still have their own student debt. New legislation could help.

By: - April 30, 2023 4:10 am

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U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens (D-Waterford Twp.) last week introduced legislation she says will expand financial aid opportunities for students whose parents are still chipping away at their own student debt. 

The bill introduced Thursday is called the Alleviating Intergenerational Debt (AID) Act. 

“The average American carries over $30,000 dollars in student debt,” said Stevens, a member of the House Education and Workforce Committee. “Many have high school-aged children with dreams of going to college themselves.This leaves parents with the difficult choice of shouldering even more debt to help secure their children’s futures. America’s student loan debt crisis has become intergenerational, trapping families in a never-ending cycle.”   

U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens speaks at the Michigan Democratic Party’s nominating convention in Lansing on Aug. 21, 2022. (Andrew Roth | Michigan Advance)

Stevens’ AID legislation, formally known as H.R. 2981, would allow for $4,000 or 15% of the parents’ outstanding loan amount, whichever is less, to be subtracted from their income in determining the Student Aid Index level. Only single-parent families with adjusted gross income of under $75,000 and two-parent families with income of under $150,000 would be eligible for the allowance.

Federal student debt is totaled at about $1.63 trillion, with the majority of debt concentrated within Generation X, according to Stevens. 

She said she was inspired to introduce the legislation at a meeting with the Masons, a Hazel Park family. 

“Currently, I hold over $100,000 in student loan debt but we are also currently paying around $30,000 out of pocket for our daughter to attend MSU,” said Isaiah Mason. “That number will rise another $20,000 starting in the fall for our son to attend EMU [Eastern Michigan University.] Neither of their FAFSA [Free Application for Federal Student Aid] applications considered my student loan debt that will resume payments soon. 

Mason added that as UAW workers, the cost of their kids’ tuition and room and board “will absolutely put a strain on our household income even more but we’re determined to not allow them to suffer the same consequences of student loan debt that I have. 

“Hopefully, with this bill, some financial relief may soon come for us and many others,” Mason said. 

The measure would amend the Student Aid Index, a formula established by law to create a new allowance against income for parents of dependent students who have student loan debt. A family’s taxed and untaxed income, assets, and benefits, such as unemployment or Social Security, are all considered in the formula. This would mirror the current allowances for federal income and payroll taxes.

The legislation was praised by college access advocates.

“Rising college costs have created a challenging decision for students and families as they weigh the economic benefits of a college education against the prospect of long-term student loan debt,” said Ryan Fewins-Bliss, Michigan College Access Network, executive director.  


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Ken Coleman
Ken Coleman

Ken Coleman writes about Southeast Michigan, history and civil rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on Black life in Detroit.