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Student loan game show host: 'I'm excited about Senator Warren's plan'

Aarthi Swaminathan
Finance Writer

Student loan game show host and actor Michael Torpey is “excited” about presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren’s (D-MA) proposal to cancel a broad swath of American student debt.

With over a trillion dollars of outstanding student loans hanging over borrowers’ heads, Torpey — who hosts a show called “Paid Off with Michael Torpey,” where contestants compete for money to pay off their debt — told Yahoo Finance’s On The Move that he was “excited by Senator Warren's plan” because “it attacks the cause of the problem that people that are struggling right now.”

En masse cancellation means that “we're taking care of the people that are out there having a hard time, and we're also trying to fund more of the public schools,” said Torpey.

(Source: "Paid Off")

Research has been divided over the effectiveness of debt relief, with some experts suggesting that it would generate economic stimulus, with others accusing it of being regressive.

“Though there are different economic groups that are benefiting more or less from forgiveness, as a whole, we need to be attacking student debt and making sure that school is something that provides opportunity as opposed to limits people,” said Torpey. “We need to attack this across the board and though forgiveness might benefit one group more than another, fixing ourselves college system would benefit everyone.”

‘There’s a lot of misinformation’

Torpey also addressed the issue of financial literacy, stressing that lack of information from the get-go lent itself to the problems that persist today.

“We don't teach financial literacy in high school. So when someone's 17, 18, and they're signing on for these loans, they don't fully understand them. And they are caught off guard when they first get out of school,” said Torpey.

In a recent survey of nearly 2,400 Americans over the age of 18 with student loans, nearly half said that they had no idea what their debt obligations would be once they graduate.

Student debt has soared in the 21st century. (Graphic: David Foster/Yahoo Finance)

And then there’s the issue of predatory loan servicers.

“There's a lot of misinformation on the part of some of these loan servicers,” added Torpey. “We've seen a lot of lawsuits go out there for them misleading borrowers, not helping them with their repayment, not telling them about income-based repayment programs, what it really means to go into forbearance. So a lot of people are struggling with just the basic navigation of their student loans, let alone the weight of actually making those payments each month.”

And while it is a gig, “I wish my show didn't have to exist,” lamented Torpey. “I wish that people weren't falling by the wayside and being abandoned with their student loans. But that's what's happening right now.”

Aarthi is a writer for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @aarthiswami.

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