It’s a scary time for millions of Americans right now. Much of eastern Texas has been declared a disaster area following Hurricane Harvey. Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have been declared disaster areas as well following Hurricane Irma, and the southeastern U.S. (especially Florida) may be next. The last thing anyone in those areas is thinking about right now is student debt. But what happens to your student loans when a disaster strikes?Read More
Yesterday, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey filed a lawsuit against loan student servicing giant FedLoan Servicing (formally known as the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Authority, or “PHEAA” for short). The lawsuit alleges widespread loan servicing problems that have harmed thousands of borrowers. The allegations against FedLoan Servicing are entirely unsurprising to me, as I’ve written extensively about ongoing problems with this student loan servicing company. But this is a major development and represents an important step in holding student loan servicers accountable for their actions.
Here are some common questions I’m getting about the lawsuit – and my answers.Read More
It’s been a whirlwind week. Last week’s leaked budget documents from the Trump administration showed proposed cuts to critical student loan programs including Public Service Loan Forgiveness, as well as major changes to income-driven repayment plans. The proposals sparked panic; hundreds of thousands of student loan borrowers have made major life decisions – selecting specific careers and specific repayment plans – in reliance on the continued existence of these programs. To have the rug pulled out from under them would be disruptive and unfair, and would likely be the basis of viable legal challenges.
After just a few days, we have some important updates on some of these reforms. Some good news, and some bad. Read on.Read More
President Trump’s budget proposal calls for the elimination of funding for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. The program allows for borrowers who are repaying their Direct federal student loans under an income-driven repayment plan while working full time for a public service employer to have any remaining balance forgiven after 10 years of qualifying payments. The first wave of borrowers eligible for forgiveness under this program will be applying later this year.
While this is certainly a time to be extremely vigilant, there are two things to keep in mind before panicking:Read More
There’s a lot going on right now in student loan news. Let’s get right to it.
New York State Will Offer Free College – With a Catch
New York is poised to become the first state in the country to offer free college tuition to its residents. Families who make $125,000 or less would be eligible for tuition-free college at all SUNY and CUNY campuses. This has the potential to benefit up to a million families. But there’s a catch – students who benefit from this initiative will have to live and work in New York for several years after graduating. If they don’t, the “free” tuition will be converted into loans that must be repaid. This has some borrower advocates concerned.Read More
Many federal student loans are eligible for income-driven repayment – a type of student loan repayment program that uses a formula to create a uniquely-tailored monthly payment for borrowers based on their income and family size. For most of these plans, borrowers can enroll for up to 20 or 25 years (depending on the specific plan), at which point any remaining balance gets forgiven. This repayment period can be reduced through programs like the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.
There are currently four major income-driven repayment plans, each with their own unique programmatic requirements and quirks: there’s Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR), Income-Based Repayment (IBR), Pay As You Earn (PAYE), and Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE). Each plan uses a different formula for calculating monthly payments; but some of the plans also have unique characteristics that differentiate them even further from each other.Read More
A “forbearance” allows student loan borrowers to temporarily postpone payments on their student loans. It’s a great – and important – option available to people who cannot afford their regular monthly payments, because it allows you to stay in good standing on your student loan and avoid default. But forbearance is not without its consequences, and when used improperly, it can cause major problems.Read More
Tax time is a stressful time, I know. And if you have student loans, there’s even more to think about. Here are are some tax-related tips to help guide you.
Deduct Your Student Loan Interest
Some of the student loan interest that you paid during 2016 may be tax deductible, which could lower your tax bill. Watch for a 1098-E statement issued by your student loan lenders, which will show the total amount of interest payments during 2016. Just keep in mind that the amount of this deduction is capped, and it is phased out entirely for higher income earners. Be sure to talk to your accountant to see if you’re eligible for this deduction.Read More
2016 has been a big year in student loan law. We saw the release of Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE), a new income-driven repayment plan for federal student loans, although its rollout and implementation were a bit of a mess. We saw a continued federal crackdown on predatory for-profit schools which resulted in the collapse of ITT Technical Institute. The Obama administration issued final rules on student loan forgiveness and debt relief for students who were defrauded by their colleges and universities. And finally, Donald Trump was elected to be the next President, leading to a great deal of uncertainty about the direction of student loan programs.
There’s never a dull moment when it comes to student loan issues, and as the year comes to a close, there’s still a lot going on. Here are some highlights. Read More
There’s been a lot of uncertainty since the election regarding what the Trump administration and the Republican-controlled Congress may have in mind for student loan borrowers. During the past few weeks, I’ve been carefully watching public statements, investigating proposed appointments, and speaking with other advocates and experts. While everything at this point is still speculation, I think we’re beginning to see some clues as to where student loan reform may be going in the next few years, and who may be most at risk from potential negative consequences.Read More