Idaho’s newest congressman-elect is a 42-year-old attorney and former state lawmaker, but he’s also still paying off thousands in student loans. “It’s how I got through law school,” said Idaho Rep.-elect Raul Labrador. The Project on Student Debt, a nonprofit research group funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Ford Foundation, says it’s not uncommon for Americans, particularly those with professional degrees, to still be paying off their student loans into their 40s. “It’s taking longer and longer as people borrow more,” said Edie Irons, the project’s communications director. “We’re definitely troubled by it.”
Labrador reported on his congressional financial disclosure form that he still owes between $15,000 and $50,000 in federal student loans. “I’ve been paying on it for, I think, 15 years now,” he said. He said he doesn’t know exactly how much he owes, but it’s toward the lower end of the disclosure form’s wide range. “I believe if that’s the only way you can go to school, you should consider it,” he said. “You don’t have to go to the most expensive school, you don’t have to take out the most loans. Go to in-state schools or other schools that are less expensive.” You can read my full story here from Sunday’s Spokesman-Review.