AUGUSTA — A bill that establishes a new position of state ombudsman to work with student borrowers and the companies servicing their loans has cleared a key hurdle in the Legislature, gaining unanimous committee support.

The bill sponsored by state Sen. Eloise Vitelli, D-Arrowsic, aims to help the one in five Mainers who collectively owe about $6 billion in student-loan debt.

Lawmakers heard from several student borrowers last week who said that when they became unable to make minimum payments on their student loans they were not helped by the companies, often working for the federal government, to service the loans and instead ended up even deeper in debt and on the brink of defaulting on their loans.

The bill, endorsed this week, will go to the state Senate for consideration.

Scott Thistle can be contacted at 791-6330 or at:

[email protected]

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