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Senator proposes new college funds

Illinois State Senator and democratic State Treasurer candidate Mike Frerichs spoke in the Student Center on Tuesday about goals for his possible time in office.

“I’m a certified public finance officer, and my focus on the Senate has been on financial issues,” Frerichs said. “I just think we need someone with experience to come and reform this office.”

Beyond finance issues, Frerichs said he wants to invest in Illinois venture capital, which will, in turn, invest in “high-tech bio medical companies.” He said this process would help grow the number of jobs in the state.

Frerichs also touched on his hopes for rebuilding the state of Illinois’ college funding programs.

“State treasurer is in charge of the college savings account,” Frerichs said. “What [parents] saw six, seven years ago [was] money they saved disappear overnight.”

The $150 million loss in 2007 and 2008 was caused by the market crash, when the money from trust accounts was invested in risky markets, according to Frerichs.

According to Frerichs, total student loan debt is greater than total credit card debt, bringing it to approximately one trillion dollars.

“That means students are coming out buried in debt, and it limits their opportunities,” he said. “People want to go into public service and feel like they can’t afford to do that, or people who want to start a family say ‘I can’t start a family, I have too much debt out there.’”

Frerich also said he has a plan for those students whose families are unable to support a college fund. It’s called ‘Pay it Forward, Pay it Back.’ The policy currently exists in Oregon, with a similar version in Pennsylvania.

“It’s a way where you can go to college for free, the college gives you a good education, you get a good job, and then a small portion, a percent of your salary, goes back to that university after you’ve graduated,” Frerich said.

Unlike student loans, which need to be paid back whether a graduate is employed or not, ‘Pay it Forward, Pay it Back’ gives students more time to pay off their education.

“We have not passed this legislation yet, but we have sent out a task force to do research,” Frerich said.

Elections are Nov. 4. For more information, visit www.election.il.gov.

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