GARDEN CITY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) - The numbers are staggering: 72 percent of college graduates in New York leave school $30,000 in debt.
Rep. Kathleen Rice says student loan debt must be a top priority for the federal government, and she has a plan to help.
"Parents... are pulling their hair out because their kids are moving back in with them after college," Rice said.
Rice went to the campus of Adelphi University to listen to students talk about their debt.
"Coming out of college a couple of hundred thousand dollars in debt is nothing good," said student Marco Parrinello.
The national student debt problem has grown to $1.5 trillion.
"The fact we are talking about student loans in same sentence that we are talking about bankruptcy is ridiculous," Rice said.
She's introducing a bill to ease student debt, called the "Students And Families Empowerment Act."
Under the proposed legislation:
- The grace period to repay loans would be extended
- Borrowers would be able to deduct all their interest for student loans up to $750,000
- income limits on student loan interest deductions would be eliminated
Many families told CBS2's Jennifer McLogan student borrowing has turned one of America's best investments - college - into a "debt trap" for far too many. They are begging the federal loan program for help.
"Ridiculous. We are charging students and parents six or seven percent when you can go buy a car for zero percent," said Floral Park resident Robert Damato.
Mario Romero-Ramirez is the first in his family to go to college. He says his parents are struggling with the payments.
"I have that pressure on top of me, as well as finding a job to repay these student loans," he said.
"I work 30 hours a week and take a load of 15 credit hours so to be able to keep up and keep saving as I go through college is really hard," said student Scott Scheinthal.
"Everyone wants their child to go to college if they choose that path," Rice said. "We should not, as the federal government, make it difficult - financially impossible to do so."
Rice is hoping for bipartisan support and a congressional vote in November.
For more information about her proposed legislation, click here.
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