Imagine you are a 25-year old woman who has completed a degree program to become a massage therapist. You are excited to get your career underway, not just because you will be able to start earning a great living but because, quite simply, you have to.
In order to earn your degree, you have had to incur thousands of dollars in student debt. But there’s a catch — the state you live in won’t let you get a license to practice until you’ve paid off your student debt. But if you are unable to work as a massage therapist, you will never be able to pay off your student loans.
For people living in nearly 20 U.S. states, this vicious cycle is a sad fact of life. And at a time when Washington D.C. is infamous for its dysfunction, there is a bipartisan bill being filed that would make it illegal to deny a person a license — be it an occupational, teaching or even to drive a vehicle — if they still have outstanding student loan debt.
The Protecting JOBS (Job Opportunities for Borrowers) Act has two Senate co-sponsors — Massachusetts Democrat Elizabeth Warren and Florida Republican Marco Rubio — who agree on very little politically. But they are in firm agreement that states should be able to punish qualified applicants because they have outstanding student debt, they incurred in order to work in the field they are seeking a license in.
Sadly, this now marks the second time Warren and Rubio have introduced this bill and they are hopeful it will come to a vote (unlike last year’s edition.)
How outstanding student loan debt affects licensed professionals
Reports have abounded over the last few years of licensed professionals working in a variety of fields around the country who have had their licenses revoked because they were behind on student loans. But while each of these stories are heartbreaking in their own unique ways, the logic behind what Rubio calls a “modern-day debtors’ prison” should escape all of us.
If a person needs to work in their field in order to pay off the loans for the education they received to enter that field, they should not be prevented from working in that field, as the likely higher wages they’ll earn in their profession will help them pay off their debts sooner.
If you find yourself in a situation where you are being denied a license of any kind because of outstanding student loan debt — which is preventing you from paying off that debt — do not hesitate to reach out to the Bertolino Law Firm.
As one of the Lone Star State’s top professional and occupational license law firms, our attorneys and counselors have built our reputation on helping people whose livelihoods are being threatened.
Whether the state is preventing you from receiving your licensure or your professional reputation is at stake, you can count on the Bertolino Law Firm to represent you and your interests. Contact us today to learn more.