Some financial counselors are advising caution when it comes to the federal government’s new income-based student loan repayment program. If you do not plan ahead, the lower monthly payments under this option could have long-term financial consequences.
The REPAYE program (Revised Pay As You Earn), which launched December 16, gives those Americans with Federal student loans the option of capping monthly payments at 10% of disposable income. For example, someone earning $30,000 a year would see payment capped at around $103 a month. It also includes a forgiveness feature- Any loan balance remaining after 20 years of payments will be wiped away for undergraduate loans. If you have loans from graduate school, the forgiveness comes after 25 years.
To make sure you weigh all the costs and benefits of the new plan, here are three questions to ask before you sign up for REPAYE:
Will your monthly payment reduce your balance? Check to see whether your monthly payment will cover both the principal and interest due on the loan. If it does not, your balance will keep growing, which can mean financial trouble in the long run.
How much more in interest will you pay? By stretching out your loan, you inevitably pay more in interest, which is money that could have been saved for your financial goals. This can also hurt your credit score if the loan balance keeps growing.
Will you be able to handle a large tax bill? Under current law the loan amount that is wiped out will be treated as taxable income. If the forgiven debt is a large amount, wiping it out may push you into a higher tax bracket, so you could end up paying the tax at an increased rate.
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For borrowers who are struggling with student loan debt, relief options are available. Many student loan borrowers are unaware that they have rights and repayment options available to them, such as postponement of loan payments, reduction of payments or even a complete discharge of the debt. It is important you contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade & Garcia, P.A. has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.