On June 16, Alderman Laurino, along with Alderman Burke, hosted a hearing to explore the impact of growing student loan debt and available repayment options for students and families in Illinois. Every year, graduates and families with student loan debt leave behind millions of dollars of federal funds allocated towards helping them to pay off these debts. During the hearing, the City Council heard testimony from top experts in the field, including Rohit Chopra, Special Advisor to the U.S. Department of Education, Eric Zarnikow, Executive Director of the Illinois Student Aid Commission, David Aronson, CEO of Peanut Butter, Inc., among others. The City Council also heard testimony from local community leader, Casey Smagala, Director of Development and Community Engagement at the Albany Park Community Center, who shared his personal journey with tackling student loan debt and taking advantage of the Federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.
“Public Service Loan Forgiveness made me possible for me to pursue my dream of serving my community," said Casey Smagala. "Without this program, I couldn’t have done it, and I call on public service agencies and HR professionals around the City to inform their employees about repayment options. There is a way to pursue your dreams without being crippled by your student debt burdens."
Alderman Laurino extends her gratitude to the day's speakers and looks forward to further championing outreach efforts in the city to help families burdened by student loan debt.