Ill. Lt. Gov. seeking to keep college affordable

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Illinois Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon is advocating ways to keep college affordable as new research shows average student loan debt has topped $26,000.

Simon presented ideas during a Tuesday visit to the University of Illinois Springfield. She supports legislation to require all colleges in the state to publish so-called College Choice Reports disclosing net costs, average debt and completion rates. That would allow prospective students to comparison shop.

Simon wants the Monetary Award Program to provide more targeted assistance and reduce the achievement gap between low-income and higher-income students.

She also advocates making the federal American Opportunity Tax Credit permanent.

According to a Pew Research Center report released this month, students took on an average of about $26,700 in loans. That's a 14 percent increase from three years earlier.