By DALIA SALLOUM, Staff Writer
On January 31, the University of Michigan-Dearborn’s Student Government Organization hosted a phone bank in the Student Organization office to reach out to several representatives and Senators to endorse the Senate Bill No. 408, which will provide a 50 percent tax credit for repayment of loans.
This bill will, once it is passed, stop the ‘brain drain’ that Michigan is experiencing now more than ever due to a lack of jobs, extreme amounts of debt new graduates are experiencing, and the economic status that the state has established for itself.
The House Bill 4182 and Senate Bill No. 408 allow a 50 percent credit for student loans, allowing taxpayers to claim their loans on taxes to receive some amount in return to help pay off student loans more effectively. Once students are able to pay off their loans on time, the money they put forward will go back into the economy for better circulation, opening up more job opportunities and keeping the Michigan graduates at home.
“This is to prevent something that Michigan is experiencing now called the brain drain and it is creating a really big problem in Michigan because at this point we have vacant jobs because nobody is here to occupy those jobs,” said SG Senator Janet Browne.
After learning about this bill, Student Government worked with The Student Association of Michigan, an organization that lobbies on behalf of student interests, to organize the phone bank where Student Government members, and other student volunteers, got together and each had a call log to reach out to their Senators to show interest in the bill and explain how this will affect them, if and when it is passed.
“This whole thing was made possible and was really helped and aided in such a great way by the Student Association of Michigan,” said SG Senator Anthony M. Wagner. “SAM is an organization that our SG buys into and the goal was to have most of the Michigan universities get involved. SAM prepared the packet, they prepared all of the information, and everything that we did to arrange the phone bank is all from SAM.”
According to SG, this bill has passed through the finance committee, which is composed of six Republicans and two Democrats. With the strong bipartisan support, this bill has received enough attention to have a hearing in both the House and Senate committees for a projected success in passing the bill.
“It is most likely to pass because of the support on both sides of the aisle, but this really insures it because it is important for every single Senator to know how important this is to Michigan students,” said Browne.
When students hear about possible legislations of this nature, it really hits home with a lot of them as it is no surprise that some students are graduating with such massive amounts of debt, but yet are not aware of how they are going to be able to relieve themselves from the burden of having to pay for it all, while trying to make ends meet and working hard to be active contributors in the economy.
“I am graduating with my undergrad in April and I have $50,000 in debt already,” said Wagner. “And I know it isn’t just me who is going through this, there are so many other people I know who are in the same situation.”
With the Student Government as a leading example for the rest of the student body, this meeting has shown that they have developed a greater interest in more political issues that are going to affect graduating students on a daily basis, and are doing their best to bring awareness and prepare the students for the future after graduation.
“Student Government does not stray away from political issues, but we tend to focus on on-campus politics,” said Student Government President Wedad Ibrahim. “However, something that students hold near and dear to their heart is student debt. So, we thought this would be a very good way to bring students together on an issue, no matter what partisanship they are a part of since this does have strong bipartisan support, and are calling senators today to at least put this on their radar to show that this is an important issue to students.”
After a seemingly successful phone bank, according to a Student Government member, Senator Glenn Anderson called to thank the students for being such strong proponents for the bill and making the calls, and thanked the students for urging the senators to support this bill.
The credit line for this bill would last for five years after graduation and only requires students to show proof of residency and employment in the state of Michigan before it is claimed. The Senate Finance Committee approved the proposal on Wednesday January 29, and has been sent to the full Senate for further authorization.