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United States President Biden Announced Updates To Student Loan Repayment

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This week, the Biden Administration released the details on its plan to overhaul the current income-driving repayment plan known as the Revised Pay As You Earn Plan popularly known as REPAYE for the Federal student loan borrowers 

In August, 2022 when President Joe Biden announced that these changes would be coming along with student debt forgiveness of up to $20,000 for borrowers earning less than $125,000 annually, which is currently put on hold  awaiting  Supreme Court decision. 

 US president Biden announced students loan repayme

It was made to understand that, all student borrowers with direct federal loans (not parent PLUS loans) are eligible for REPAYE repayment plans. The updates to REPAYE will be open for public comment for only 30 days and may likely start to take effect later this year, according  to an Education Department press release

Below are the lists of things that are slated to change 

Monthly Payments Reduced To 5% Of Discretionary Income

The proposal under the current REPAYE plan, borrowers’ monthly payments are calculated as 10% of their discretionary income, defined as any income above 150% of the federal poverty line, which is around $20,400. Which means currently, a single borrower earning $25,000 annually could be expected to pay $460 per month on their loans.

While payments would be at 5% of discretionary income and the standard of discretionary income would rise to 225% of the federal poverty level, or roughly $30,500 for single households. 

Monthly Payments Is $0 For Low-income Borrowers 

According  to the proposal, monthly payments will be reduced to $0 for single borrowers earning less than $30,500 and any borrower in a “family of four” earning less than $62,400, as pronounced by Education Department fact sheet. The change would also stop interest from accruing on balances while borrowers qualify for $0 monthly payments.

 

Regular Payments Attracts No Interest Accumulation

With the current REPAYE plan, sometimes borrowers’ monthly payments are lower than the interest accrued on the loan. That means borrowers can still see balances growing even if they make full, on-time payments. The government currently subsidizes some of that interest accrual, but not all of it.

The proposed change would eliminate additional interest after a borrower’s monthly payment is applied. That means borrowers who qualify for a $0 monthly payment would not see additional interest growing on their balances. 

Easier Path To  Loan Forgiveness 

That is to say, borrowers on the existing REPAYE plan are eligible to have any remaining loan balances forgiven after 20 years of monthly payments for undergraduate loans or 25 years for graduate or professional study loans. 

Joe Biden’s proposal would consider the borrower’s original loan balance to determine forgiveness eligibility. Those who borrowed $12,000 or less would be eligible for loan forgiveness after 10 years of monthly payments. Every $1,000 borrowed above that amount would add one year of payments before forgiveness eligibility.

In addition, the proposed change would allow borrowers who enter deferment for a variety of reasons, such as military service or cancer treatment, to still earn credit for payments toward forgiveness. Currently, only economic hardship deferments allow borrowers on income-driven repayment (IDR) plans to continue their progress toward forgiveness.

Moreso, borrowers may consolidate their loans without resetting their progress toward forgiveness. Currently, borrowers on REPAYE plans who consolidate their loans lose any progress they had made toward forgiveness. Take for instance, a borrower who had made 100 monthly payments (out of the required minimum 240 monthly payments before loan forgiveness) and then consolidated their loans would have to start over, according to the Federal Student Aid website. The new plan would give borrowers a weighted average of credit for payments before consolidation, so not all their progress would be lost.

Automatic Enrolment For At-risk Borrowers 

Good to know that the Education Department made it clear that in the past, too many borrowers defaulted on their loans when they may have qualified for lower or $0 payments on a different repayment plan. The proposal aims to fix that by automatically enrolling borrowers who are at least 75 days behind on payments in an IDR plan that offers the lowest monthly payment. Borrowers with loans in default would also gain access to IDR plans. Currently, borrowers only have the option to rehabilitate or consolidate loans in default

Readers have been well updated and it is believed to be a welcome development but until the supreme court rules on the student debt forgiveness plan then it will come into effect.

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