An estimated $1.5 trillion is owed in student loan debt nationwide, which makes it a pressing issue in the current political arena. In fact, student loan debt is expected to be a major issue in the upcoming election given the fact that more than 40 million American consumers carry student loan debt. The following are some potential changes that borrowers may see in the future.
One of these proposed changes has been to radically modify the costs of attending a public university. Currently, the average student graduates from a state public university with somewhere near $35,000 in student loan debt, which stays with the borrower for quite some time following graduation. This balance goes up even more if the college is out-of-state or private. The House Democrats have recently proposed the Aim Higher Act, legislation which would increase the amount of grant-based federal aid and would also offer financial incentives to states to either reduce tuition or eliminate it altogether at state universities. The latter may seem like a pipedream, but some states, such as New York, have recently proposed laws that would offer free tuition at state universities for students who qualified under income guidelines, so long as the student commits to staying and working in New York upon graduation.
These proposals only deal with students who are getting ready to attend college. What about the others who already have student loans and are struggling to pay them? Proposals have been made to create a federal program that allows borrowers to refinance both their federal and private student loans at a lower interest rate. This possibility could make payments more reasonable for borrowers by lowering interest rates on outstanding loans. However, opponents to this idea argue that a refinancing program would only benefit higher-income earners as opposed to those groups who could benefit from them most.
Another potential change to student loans could come in the form of caps on how much interest can accrue on a loan. Borrowers normally end up paying essentially double what they took out originally by the time interest is fully paid. Many state legislators have proposed capping the amount of interest at a certain percentage of the total original principal balance, making the repayment process more feasible.
At some point, many financial experts advocate that all of the programs in the world will do nothing without addressing the total debt owed already. Student loan forgiveness or cancellation could be seen as a way of not only stimulating the economy but also freeing many from the burden of debt. Programs, such as the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, already exist, but those only apply for graduates working in specific industries. Other programs could potentially appear with the same goal in mind in the future.
Student loan advocates have been arguing for years that more oversight needs to occur for lending. States, including New York and Massachusetts, have bills that are currently pending which involve this issue, and it is highly possible more states will propose similar legislation.
Reform may also come in the bankruptcy court. Traditionally, student loans have been next to impossible to discharge in bankruptcy. The courts apply an “undue hardship” test when determining if a borrower’s loan obligations should be discharged, but no uniform test exists, leaving courts to vary in their interpretation of the law. The fact that these loans are so hard to discharge in bankruptcy is a leading reason why many people decide not to file for bankruptcy and continue struggling financially. If student loans were able to be discharged in bankruptcy, this change could open the doors to financial freedom for countless borrowers struggling with student loan debt.
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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. There are ways to file for bankruptcy with student loan 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 McMaken 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 McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.