States Prohibit Collection of Certain Types of School Debt

On top of changes to how medical debts are being collected — if they are allowed to be collected at all — and rumors circulating about student loan debts being canceled or forgiven, states are also halting the collection of other types of debt, including those owed to local schools. A pair of states have taken action to stop either the collection of unpaid lunch debts or debts that are owed by students who have been ticketed for truancy.

South Carolina’s House of Representatives and Senate both unanimously passed a bill last week that would prohibit school districts from placing accounts of unpaid school lunch debts with third-party collection agencies. The bill also prohibits school districts from charging interest on unpaid lunch debts and adding additional fees on top of what is owed. A number of states took up the lunch date debate several years ago, outlawing it from occurring. Now that the cancellation of other types of debt are making the rounds in state legislatures, it’s not a surprise that lunch debt once again surfaced as an area of concern for lawmakers.

Meanwhile, in Illinois, the state Comptroller has announced that her office will now prohibit collections on truancy ticket debts because state law does not allow schools to seek fines for truant students. A published report revealed that nearly 12,000 tickets were issued during the last three school years, about 10% of which were for students who were truant. “The only consequences of the tickets are to impose a financial burden on already struggling families and to make students feel even less cared for, less welcome, and less included at school,” said state Comptroller Carmen Ayala in a published report.

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