A bill is moving through the legislature in Ohio that would halt the collection of all debts owed to any state college or university and any hospital operated by a college or university while also pausing the accrual of interest and collection fees on those debts.
The bill was introduced by Rep. Jessica Miranda and Rep. Catherine Ingram, both Democrats, and includes 20 different co-sponsors. It is currently in the legislature’s House Civil Justice Committee. The intention of the bill is to mirror what is being done at the federal level with moratoriums placed on the collection of student loans and to provide relief to individuals in Ohio who are suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic, Rep. Miranda said.
If enacted, the suspension of debt collection would begin immediately and remain in effect until a state of emergency declared in Ohio as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic is rescinded. The state, its agencies or political subdivisions would be barred from commencing any collection proceedings against anyone that owes any amount to a state institution of higher learning or a hospital operated by a state institution of higher learning.
“It wouldn’t keep compounding this debt for folks who have it in terms of interest and penalties because we know people are going through a hard time right now,” Rep. Miranda said in a media report. “The least we can do as a state is make sure this debt doesn’t become insurmountable where we can never get out from underneath it.”
The actual amount of debt that would be impacted by the bill as well as any cost associated with its enactment are still to be determined.