In a move that could benefit millions of federal student loan borrowers, President Obama will be issuing an executive order to reduce monthly payments under current income-driven repayment programs.
In 2007, Congress and President Bush passed a law that created the Income-Based Repayment (IBR) program, which allows federal student loan borrowers to make payments on their federal student loans based on their income. The program caps monthly payments at 15% of a borrower’s discretionary income. After 25 years of payments under the IBR program, whatever balance remains is forgiven.
Last year, President Obama created the Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE) repayment program. This program improves upon IBR by capping payments at 10% of a borrower’s discretionary income. Furthermore, a borrower’s remaining loan balance is forgiven after only 20 years, instead of 25 years. PAYE is a significant improvement over IBR in terms of the repayment and forgiveness terms, but unfortunately, the U.S. Dept. of Education limited the program’s eligibility to what it calls “new borrowers.” These are borrowers who had no outstanding federal student loan debt as of Oct. 1, 2007, and also took out a new federal student loan on or after Oct. 1, 2011.
This week, President Obama announced that through executive order, he will be expanding the PAYE program to an additional 5 million borrowers. I’ve been advocating for an expansion of this program for years. This will have real, measurable impacts for people by significantly reducing their monthly payments and shortening their repayment term. It is unclear, however, who these 5 million borrowers will be, since there are approximately 30 million borrowers in the Direct Loan program.
Will you be eligible for the expanded PAYE program? Who is going to be left out of this executive action? Stay tuned, I’ll be posting new information about this as it becomes available.