Lawmakers and privacy rights groups spar over student loan debt solutions

2 NEWS Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON (WDTN) – American student loan debt currently sits at about $1.5 trillion. It creates a whole host of problems for recent graduates who owe tens, even hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy says part of the solution is educating students before they start class, with detailed reports on the full cost of degree and potential earnings after graduation.

“It matters where you go. it matters what you study when you go there,” he says.

In order to provide that information to prospective students, Cassidy wants to overturn a long-standing law blocking the federal government from collection student data.

Cassidy’s College Transparency Act would allow the federal government greater access to student information while barring collection of certain data, but that causes major concern for privacy rights groups like the ACLU and also from people like Sarah Flanagan, who represents private colleges and universities.

“The federal government doesn’t get to know everything about its citizens that it might be curious about,” she says.

Opponents say the Transparency Act is too transparent. It allows the feds to pry into students’ lives and determine sensitive information like whether a student is an undocumented immigrant.

“That’s a really good example of an area and a reason why we might want to take a different approach,” she said.

Flanagan and her organization support a competing bill she says provides the information Cassidy seeks while keeping sensitive data out of federal hands.

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