California Student Aid Commission
Student Loan Workgroup
In 2020, the Campaign advocated for the creation of a state-funded workgroup dedicated to solving California's student debt crisis. With the passage of the Budget Act of 2020, the California Student Aid Commission was tasked with convening a workgroup of higher education and student debt experts to better understand the problems borrowers face at every stage of repayment.
Each month, the workgroup invited researchers, advocates, and other experts to present research findings and discuss best practices for tackling student debt and protecting borrowers. In October 2021, the working group presented its findings formally to the California Legislature and California Department of Finance.
The Campaign was successful in advocating for the inclusion of the recommendation for California to establish a central state hub for borrower outreach as the top recommendation in the final report. There is currently no state program that solely supports the nearly four million Californians with student loans. Student borrowers in repayment must fend for themselves to find out the information they need as they earnestly aim to pay off their debt.
At every step of the college affordability spectrum, prospective student borrowers and borrowers should have access to a reliable government-sourced hub of information regarding student loans. The hub should have a go-to webpage for student borrowers to get generalized information, and potentially make use of specific information tools, like a comparison tool for aid letters and how to apply for forgiveness programs.
Along with a central website to direct all student borrowers to, a call center would be key to also ensure borrowers are directed to the appropriate agency, non-profit partners, or resource. The central hub could then leverage a network of non-profit partners, including legal aid attorneys, that already engage with prospective student borrowers, current student borrowers, and former student borrowers throughout the state, including leveraging local government efforts at city offices of financial empowerment to provide services to borrowers. Read the Campaign’s written comments to the workgroup on the draft report here.
Read all six main recommendations from the workgroup and the full report here.
Members of the Campaign frequently join the workgroup's monthly meetings to present on their experiences working with struggling borrowers across California. Midway through the process, NextGen Policy was also added as an official member of the workgroup and helped elevate the Campaign priorities in the final report.
March 2021: Student Debt Crisis presents on outreach to communities that are systematically denied access to repayment protections; NextGen Policy presents on state developments in borrower protections
The Campaign is working this year (2022), to implement the Campaign’s top recommendation included in the final report in the California Budget to establish a state support program for student loan borrowers.