Washington DC (June 27) – In recent years, college graduates have found themselves increasingly saddled with student loan debt. Even worse, many of these graduates fall behind on that debt – often through no fault of their own. Defaulting on these loans can bring a number of unpleasant ramifications, including loss of a person’s job through the suspension or revocation of a professional license.

In a new policy paper, R Street director of commercial freedom policy and senior fellow, C. Jarrett Dieterle; policy analyst and digital media specialist, Shoshana Weissmann; and policy analyst and senior program manager, Garrett Watson, examine the problem of student loan debt in the United States and the licensure issues this problem has triggered. In addition, they propose increased transparency and data collection about the extent to which licensing boards use license revocation laws. They also recommend that policymakers make a concerted effort to repeal and remove these laws in states where they exist.

Currently, 18 states have laws on the books that allow them to revoke or suspend occupational licenses from individuals who fall behind on their student loans. These laws hurt well-meaning borrowers and make it more difficult for them to catch up on their loan payments. The authors conclude, “Stripping delinquent borrowers of their professional license essentially tells them: we want you to do better at repaying your loans, so we are going to deny you the ability to earn the money needed to do so.”