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Illinois Attorney General Pushes Student-Loan Transparency Bill

(CBS) – That math is not good: Breia Harris takes in $1,400 a month, and pays about $800 of that toward her students loans of $65,000.

She graduated from Ferris State University with a degree in communications and eventually got a job in event planning.

"It's very stressful. Some nights I've cried just looking at my budgeting, trying to figure out what needs to be done, what needs to be paid," she says.

Like millions of others, Harris says she called her loan servicer for help on how to tackle the bills.

"It was not helpful at all," she says.

Harris' concerns echo those of the nearly 1,600 who filed complaints in the last year against the private companies in Illinois that are supposed to offer consumers the best options to repay their loans. Officials say they are not.

"Instead of telling you about income-driven programs, they're putting you into forbearance or a deferment, where you are continuing to gain interest, making your loan larger at the end of the day," Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan says.

Madigan is supporting a bill proposed by state Sen. Daniel Biss that sets up new rules that, among other things, forces companies to help consumers choose the least expensive payment plan.

"If the state government finds that they're not fulfilling the rights and responsibilities laid out in this bill then the state government has the ability to pull the license," Biss said.

One of the largest loan service providers in the state says the proposed bill would only add more layers to a system that is already overly complex.

The bill has already cleared an Illinois Senate committee and could come up for a vote later this week.


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