If you have student loans and you also possess a professional license issued by your state, then listen up. In at least 19 states in this country, you can have either your driver’s license or professional one, or both, suspended if you default on your educational loans.
The types of professionals that could potentially be impacted by these state regulations include masseuses, hair stylists, nurses, lawyers, librarians, physicians, firefighters and others. In just the last few years since creditors started suspending professionals’ licenses for defaulting on debt, just under 9,000 individuals in New York state have lost the ability to lawfully work in their profession.
Historically, creditors have only been able to garnish wages, file lawsuits, or intercept tax refund checks to recover student debts that have long gone unpaid.
Student loan debt has soared to record levels close to being on par with home mortgages in recent years. It’s led creditors, backed by both federal and state governments, to think of new ways to try to get people to pay. Taking away individuals’ abilities to practice their professions has been championed by some as a way to convince people to do just that.
Proponents of the effort have noted that having a policy like this in place protects taxpayers as it keeps them from having to foot the bill for when a student defaults on one’s state- or federally-backed debt. They argue that taking away an individual’s ability to earn money in one’s chosen field has a high change of making a debtor want to pay what they owed.
Among the different states, Tennessee reportedly is the most aggressive in suspending or revoking professional licenses. In the last five years, nearly 6,000 people have lost theirs because of student loan debt. Just last year in Louisiana, nearly 90 nurses were told that their licenses would be suspended until their student loan debt was brought current.
If you’ve been threatened with a lawsuit, wage or tax garnishment, or having your professional license revoked for unpaid debts, a Toms River, New Jersey, debt relief attorney can advise you of your options.
Source: New York Times, “When Unpaid Student Loan Bills Mean You Can No Longer Work,” Jessica Silver-Greenberg, Stacy Cowley and Natalie Kitroeff, Nov. 18, 2017