The two candidates in Illinois’ 17th Congressional District race agree that student loan debt is a problem in the country. But they disagree on how to address it.
Democrat Congresswoman Cheri Bustos called the issue a ‘crisis’ with the amount of student loan debt in the U.S. being greater than credit card debt.
She said government is the best solution to a debt reduction.
“I have supported legislation that allows students to refinance their student loans at a lower level. I have been a lead sponsor of legislation that expands Pell Grants, so those students who can’t go to school because they can’t afford it, gives them an opportunity to do that,” Bustos said.
Bustos also mentioned one of her sons, who is pursuing an MBA, and has student loan debt in the ‘high five figures’.
On the other hand, Republican challenger Bobby Schilling said improving the economy would help reduce student loan debt.
“If kids go to college, they’re not very concerned about what their payments are going to be when they get out," Schilling said. "But the bigger threat they have is in a downturn economy and no jobs to pay those payments."
Schilling said that not everyone goes to college, and a greater focus should be made on helping high school students decide on a career.
He said competition between colleges could reduce the cost of going to school.
Schilling was a first-time Congressman in 2012, and the incumbent in the district when Bustos defeated him.
The comments were made during the pair's only debate ahead of the November election late last week in the Quad Cities.