By Lily Guiney, Michigan Advance
As the U.S. Supreme Court approaches a ruling on President Joe Biden’s proposal to forgive a portion of student loan debt, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has instructed various state agencies to explore cost-cutting mechanisms for borrowers in Michigan.
In a Wednesday executive directive, Whitmer called on the state departments of Treasury, Insurance and Financial Services and Education, among others, to evaluate additional measures that could provide borrowers with lower interest rates and new loan regulations aimed at protecting borrowers.
Whitmer said in a statement that she hopes to expand upon current affordable higher education programs in the state to keep Michigan’s workforce competitive.
“In Michigan, we have established several programs to lower the cost of skills training and college so anyone can envision their future in our state,” Whitmer said. “Together, we will keep creating economic opportunity and growing our state by lowering costs, attracting and retaining young people, and meeting business talent needs.”
Executive Directive 2023-03 instructs the Department of Treasury to consider the benefits of restarting the State of Michigan as a student loan originator, which Whitmer’s statement said could include lower interest rates and enabled borrowing for underserved communities.
State Treasurer Rachel Eubanks said in a statement that she looks forward to working alongside Whitmer to ensure her department meets the goals of the directive.
“Paying for a college education often requires students and families to take out loans to cover tuition, books and housing,” Eubanks said. “Finding innovative and responsible ways to make student loans more affordable can help students achieve their dreams while minimizing the amount of debt needed.”
Other departments subject to the executive directive include the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Office of Rural Development, Office of the State Employer and the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity. Whitmer’s directive instructed those departments to consider “any additional means” by which the state could lower costs for borrowers.
The directive instructs the affected departments and agencies to submit reports to Whitmer’s office by Aug. 31 outlining their findings on student loan debt solutions.
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