Graduates in debt? Let them play a lottery, says state legislator

Ticket prices, total contributions would be capped

A bill introduced to New Jersey's assembly Monday would establish a lottery in which the winnings could be used only for repaying student loans.

The bill was proposed by assembly member John Burzichelli (D), who says that "we have people graduating from universities with just too much on their shoulders… and that hampers them from doing other things when they reach the workforce."

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The student loan lottery would have a smaller pool of contestants, so participants would have higher chances of winning, says Burzichelli. Ticket prices would be capped—and so would the amount an individual could risk in the lottery—at 15% of that person's total loan amount.

Natalia Abrams, executive director of Student Debt Crisis, criticized the bill. "I think that if they can afford 15% of what they owe they should just pay it to their student loan servicer."

Local paper the Asbury Park Press published a scathing editorial condemning the bill, naming it the year's "Dumbest Bill Proposed by a New Jersey Legislator." The editorial concedes that student debt is a problem for local residents—but suggests that supporters should advocate for other solutions, like new refinancing options or monthly payment caps.

Related story: Warren pitches "debt-free" path to a college degree

But Burzichelli suggests the problem has gotten to the point that creative options should be on the table—even if they seem far-fetched. "Any vehicle that could provide some relief it seems to me it's worth talking about," he says (Friedman, NJ Advance Media, 7/6; Asbury Park Press, 7/6).

Thoughts on the story? Tweet us at @eab_daily and let us know.

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