- It will take a comprehensive, bold and decisive plan developed through the lens of a unique, conservative U.S. Senator to end the student loan debt crisis affecting 1.8 million Georgians and to restructure how Americans pay for college and other secondary education going forward.
Dr. Wayne Johnson can be that Senator who will take the lead in dealing with this issue through his Opportunity Plus Plan – the only platform ever developed that addresses these goals.
- 1.8 million Georgians who owe $60 billion from Valdosta to Dalton and from Columbus to Savannah talk about making student loan payments every month. More than 44 million other American families do the same. It is, as Wayne Johnson says, “a tragedy hiding in plain sight.”
Thousands of Georgia seniors get a Social Security check and a student loan bill in the same month. And thousands more Georgians are introduced to the student loan debt trap each year. Wayne Johnson wants that to end. Paying student debt is a kitchen table issue for millions of Georgia families.
- The nation's student loan debt crisis shackles more than 44 million Americans and their families with the burden of complicated, long-term debt. The student debt problem is the result of the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 that turned on the fire-hydrant of never-ending, taxpayer-backed dollars being made available for colleges to use to cause students to draw on in the form of student loans.
During his time in Washington while serving as the senior executive in charge of our nation's Federal student loan program, Wayne Johnson came to understand the system firsthand, recognized that it was fundamentally flawed and envisioned a path to solve the student loan crisis affecting the fabric of our country. Dr. Johnson has defined the path forward for fixing this problem in his bold and comprehensive Opportunity Plus Plan. This plan will cancel student loan debt for 1.8 million Georgians.
- Dr. Wayne Johnson is recognized as a preeminent expert on higher education financing. His transformational Opportunity Plus Plan is the only comprehensive platform, developed by a fiscal conservative that is appreciated by Democrats and Republicans alike. His plan demonstrates his knowledge of the Federal student loan system, and his understanding of what must be done regarding changes in Federal law in order to eliminate the “Gordian Knot” of Federal student loans.
Specifics of the Opportunity Plus Plan for Higher Education
The basic components of Wayne Johnson’s Opportunity Plus Plan as it relates to post-high school education are as follows:
$50,000 Educational Opportunity Plus Scholarship Grant for all high school graduates.
- Every high school graduate in the United States, of which there were 110,793 Georgians in 2019, as well any adult high school graduate who has never accessed the Federal student loan system will receive an Opportunity Plus Scholarship Grant of $50,000 to pay for college or secondary vocational education.
- Other forms of higher education funding, such as Pell Grants, would remain in place. As would all state programs, such as the Hope Scholarship and Hope Grants in Georgia.
- Opportunity Plus Scholarship Grant money would be tied to satisfactory academic progress and available over the recipient’s lifetime, distributed as needed for post-high school academic or vocational training pursuits.
- All Opportunity Plus Scholarship Grant recipients will be required to participate in annual online financial awareness training.
- Each Opportunity Plus Scholarship Grant recipient will be required to perform 10 hours of community or public service for every $1,000 of grant money received.
$50,000 of Opportunity Plus Federal Student Loan Debt Cancellation on current outstanding student loan debt.
- More than 37 million of the current 44 million Federal student loan borrowers across the nation will become totally student loan debt-free as a result of receiving $50,000 of Opportunity Plus Federal Student Loan Debt cancellation. This includes 1.6 of the 1.8 million Georgians with Federal student loan debt. And all other student loan borrowers will have their Federal student loan debt reduced by $50,000, with the remainder of their loan balances being placed into non-interest accumulating Federal Income Share Repayment Agreements.
- This Opportunity Plus Federal Student Loan Debt Cancellation would apply to all forms of Federal student loans including Direct Loans and Federally guaranteed student loans.
- Each Federal student loan borrower for whom debt is canceled will be asked to perform 10 hours of community or public service for every $1,000 of canceled debt.
Up to $50,000 of Opportunity Plus Federal Student Loan Tax Credits
Tax credits of up to $50,000 for all Federal student loan borrowers since 2000 who have repaid their Federal loans, or who paid for their education not using Federal student loans.
The Opportunity Plus Plan calls for Negative Credit Bureau Information related to student loans to be cleaned from credit reports.
- The loan servicing infrastructure of the Federal Student Aid program has resulted in millions of details of inaccurate information being reported to credit bureaus.
- Negative credit ratings which result from inaccurate reporting to credit bureaus can, for decades, prevent Georgia citizens from buying a house, a car or any other major expenditure. It also impacts their ability to get favorable terms on credit, rent an apartment, or even get a job. When Georgia families talk around the kitchen table about how to make important purchases for their families, the discussion is often stopped by negative credit reports caused by a broken student loan system.
- Enabled with a clean credit report, millions of Georgians will get a fresh start, under this aspect of the Opportunity Plus Plan.
The Opportunity Plus Plan Calls for Student Loans to Be Dischargeable Under Bankruptcy
- An immediate action to be taken under the Opportunity Plus Plan For Higher Education is for the President of the United States by Executive Order and for the Secretary of Education by way of Administrative Authority to establish policy where bankruptcy filings for the discharge of Federal student loan debt would not be challenged in court. The effect of this would be that bankruptcy courts would grant the discharge petitions since there is no objection by the creditor, in this case the Federal Government.
- An additional Presidential Executive Order action would be that bankruptcy due solely to the discharge of Federal student loan debt would not be reported to the credit bureaus.
- The Opportunity Plus Plan for Higher Education calls for changes in Federal law so as to establish “dischargability with guardrails,” such that Federal student loan debt is at least 10 years old from date of last “original borrowing” would be fully dischargeable under bankruptcy. This change in Federal law would apply immediately to all Federal student loan debt and would apply to all new private student loan debt, effective as of the date the change in Federal law in enacted. Furthermore, Federal Income Share Repayment Agreements would also be dischargeable in bankruptcy; with guardrails requiring that the original debt associated with the Federal Income Share Repayment Agreement is at least 10 years old.
The optimal solution to this issue regarding bankruptcy reform for student loan debt is to end the Federal student loan program in its entirety in favor of the Opportunity Plus Plan Scholarship Grant Program. Private student loan debt should be fully dischargeable under bankruptcy, with the understanding that standard credit criteria would be applied by private lenders as they may decide to continue to make private student loans.
The Opportunity Plus Plan for Higher Education Calls for Setting all Go-Forward Interest Rates on Federal Student Loan Debt at 0 %
- Until such time as Federal law is changed that would end the current Federal Student Loan Program in favor of putting in place the Opportunity Plus Plan Scholarship Grant Program, then the go-forward interest rate for all existing Federal student loans, and any new Federal student loans would be set at 0%.
Also, until such time as Federal law is changed in this regard, all rights to forbearance and deferments would continue; except however that there would be no assessment of interest on outstanding balances. The capitalization of interest on interest would immediately end.
How to Pay for the Opportunity Plus Plan for Higher Education
- The philosophy behind how to pay for the Opportunity Plus Plan for Higher Education is based upon an understanding that the primary beneficiaries of an educated workforce are America’s corporations, both for profit and not-for-profit. Additionally, corporations are the ones who set education level requirements for job attainment.
- The Opportunity Plus Plan will be paid for by a 1% Workforce Investment Tax on for-profit and non-profit corporations’ top-line revenue. This will more than adequately pay for the Opportunity Plus Plan going forward, and it will also serve to repay the $1.7 trillion of national debt that was created tied to the current, broken Federal Student Loan program.
- The revenue stream from a 1% Workforce Investment Tax on corporate revenue would be dedicated to post-high school education and would fund a National Post-Secondary Education Trust Fund.
- This 1% Workforce Investment Tax on corporate top-line revenue would generate more than $240 billion annually, more than enough to pay for the annual awarding of $140 billion of Opportunity Plus Scholarship Grants. This will result in no more Federal student loan debt for anyone going forward. And a portion of the $240 billion in annual revenue would be used to pay off the existing $1.7 trillion in national debt that was used to fund the current, broken Federal student loan system.
- The balance of funds generated by the Workforce Investment Tax will be used to pay for additional Pell Grants and other special grants for high-need areas. Also, the funds will cover administrative costs of awarding and monitoring Opportunity Plus Scholarship Grants, along with monitoring and overseeing the public service obligations of the beneficiaries of the Opportunity Plus Plan. Funds could also be used to support other Opportunity Plus Plan initiatives around education such as supplemental financial consideration for teachers.
- An important aspect of the Opportunity Plus Plan for Higher Education is that corporations, which are paying the Workforce Investment Tax, could qualify to be a direct provider of secondary education, thus being entitled to be paid as an education service provider like any other college or vocational school.
- The Workforce Investment Tax aspect of the Opportunity Plus Plan will be summarily rejected by corporations, most aspects of the private sector, non-profit organizations, lobbyists, and many Washington politicians. However, attitudes will change once the future return of investment in our nation's higher education through a stronger, expanded non-debt burdened workforce becomes understood.
The Results Expected From Implementation of the Opportunity Plus Plan for Higher Education
The Federal government gets out of the student loan business, forever. America stops adding to the exploding national debt and begins paying down the $1.7 trillion in Federal student loan debt, of which $60 billion is owed by Georgia citizens.
- Parents will no longer have to worry about how they or their children are going to pay for college or post-high school vocational training.
- Adults who never received secondary education will have funding to pursue higher education, vocational training, a better job and higher wages.
- The cost of college and other forms of post-secondary education will come down. Colleges cost too much and have benefited from an unending flow of taxpayer money put in the hands of college students unable to understand the consequences of taking on the current form of Federal student loan debt. Competition for a defined amount of education dollars will serve to drive down the cost of college.
- The future workforce of Georgia and the nation, will have the opportunity to be more effective and efficient, unshackled by the burden of student loan debt. Organizations, both for-profit and non-profit, which pay for the Opportunity Plus Plus through the Workforce Investment Tax will have the opportunity to provide direct input into college and vocational curriculum and can become providers of post-secondary education; thus eligible to receive funding through the Opportunity Plus Plan. This should result in education that is more directly in tune with corporate workforce requirements.
First Steps Toward Ending the Student Loan Debt Crisis
- Dr. Wayne Johnson believes that the process begins in the U.S. Senate. His Opportunity Plus Plan for Higher Education is focused on action, no more political rhetoric and no more admiring of the problem. People in Washington talk about the Federal student loan debt crisis often, especially during a presidential election cycle, but nothing ever gets done.
- Millions of Georgia voters can rally to a real solution by voting for a unique U.S. Senate candidate – Wayne Johnson – in a unique special election in November.
- Upon becoming a member of the U.S. Senate, Wayne Johnson will focus intensely on causing changes in Federal law to provide for implementation of the Opportunity Plus Plan. Paying for higher education academic pursuit, paying for post high-school vocational training, and canceling out student loan debt are important components that will be fulfilled delivered under the opportunity plus plan.