By Justin Chermol
The daunting task of paying back astronomical student loans may soon be less taxing, California Congressman Scott Peters tells told Cheddar Tuesday.
Rep. Peters (D-Calif.) has received 99 co-sponsors on his bipartisan Employer Participation in Repayment Act, which would allow employers to contribute to their employees' student loan payments, tax-free.
"The idea is this: if you go to work for a company, they can pay off up to $5,250 of your student loans in a year without it being income to you, so it's not taxable to you," Peters told Cheddar's J.D. Durkin.
"If you talk to any young person about ... the big thing on their mind: it's student loan debt. They're not buying a house, they're not getting a car, they're living with their parents, all because they have this burden."
According to a recent report from the Federal Reserve, the rise in student loan debt from 2005 to 2014 has contributed to a decline in home ownership.
Nearly one in four American adults are paying off student loans. That amounts to over 44 million citizens who hold collectively almost $1.5 trillion in student debt.
"The average debt now, out of a public university: $30,000 for each kid," Peters said.
Peters also said that the bill could benefit the employer as well ー as educated talent will be attracted to jobs that offer this tax-free incentive.
Peter said he feels good about the bill's chances of at least making it to the House floor for a vote.
"I am more optimistic about that in this Congress with Mrs. Pelosi, rather than Mr. Ryan. I think that we are likely to deal with this issue in a serious way," Peters said. "That's the first step."