States Review Laws Revoking Licenses For Student Loan Defaults

Source Date: 
Wednesday, April 8, 2015

In 22 states, people who default on their student loans can have professional licenses suspended or revoked. The percentage of Americans who default on student loans has more than doubled since 2003.

Butch Dill/AP

Clementine Lindley says she had a great college experience, but if she had it to do over again, she probably wouldn't pick an expensive private school.

"I could actually buy a small home in Helena, Mont., with the amount of debt that I graduated with," she says.

"Removing my driver's license, you just created one more barrier for me being a productive citizen in my community."

Clementine Lindley, Montana resident

Fresh out of school, Lindley says there were times when she had to decide whether to pay rent, buy food or make her student loan payments.

"There was a time where I defaulted on my student loans enough that I never was sent to collections, but just long enough to, honestly, ruin my credit."

That was motivation enough for Lindley to figure out ways to make her payments. But had she defaulted longer, the state of Montana could have revoked her driver's license.

In 22 states, defaulters can have the professional licenses they need to do their jobs suspended or revoked if they fall behind in their student loan payments, licenses for things like nursing or engineering. The percentage of Americans defaulting on their student loans has more than doubled since 2003. That's putting a lot of people's livelihoods at risk.

“I’m in debt. I am a true American.”
– Balki Bartokomous (fictional character played by "Bronson Pinchot" in the television sitcom "Perfect Strangers")