Debt Relief, student loan debt, Student Loans

Student Loan Changes on the Horizon in 2021

Changes are on the horizon for student loans in 2021. Student loan reform has been an issue discussed for years, if not decades, but several events that occurred in 2020 have pushed the issue to the forefront. The presidential election, the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, and the current economic climate have all pushed lawmakers to realize that student loan reform is a very real issue, and one that requires immediate action. The following possible changes could be coming in the new year.  

Student Loan Cancellation 

A number of recent legislative proposals have brought up the idea of student loan forgiveness. One proposal was included in the Heroes Act stimulus package proposed by House Democrats. In the legislation, lawmakers proposed to cancel up to $10,000 in student loan debt for borrowers who could demonstrate that they were struggling financially. Unfortunately, even though the legislation moved forward to the Senate, this portion of the original bill was removed. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Chuck Schumer (D-MA) have proposed legislation that would cancel $50,000 in student loan debt for borrowers who earn less than $125,000 in annual income. Lawmakers have pushed on President Elect Joe Biden to make a statement as to whether he supports or does not support student loan cancellation. Biden has stated that he would not likely pursue an executive order to cancel student loans, but rather, he encouraged Congress to consider immediate cancellation of $10,000 of student loans across the board. However, the fate of this proposal hinges on whether Republicans will retain control over the Senate. If they do, it is unlikely that student loan cancellation will move forward. 

Deferment for Student Loan Payments 

COVID-19 legislation, namely the CARES Act, brought about a pause for all outstanding federal student loan payments. In March 2020, this legislation paused payments on federal student loans, stayed student loan debt collection on defaulted loans, and stopped interest from accruing on all federal student loans. The legislation was created to help borrowers who were struggling financially during the pandemic. This “pause” is expected to expire as of January 31, 2021 unless Congress introduces legislation to extend this measure.  Discussions have occurred regarding extending the forbearance period past January 31, but no decision has been made to date. How this proceeds could depend a great deal on COVID-19 numbers, the current unemployment rate, and the economy.   

Student Loans and Bankruptcy  

One major change that could be occurring in 2021 has to do with how student loans are handled in a consumer bankruptcy case. For the most part, student loans have been all but impossible to discharge in both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases. Borrowers must file a separate case within the bankruptcy matter, naming the lender, and providing evidence of undue hardship on behalf of the borrower. Courts across the country have been inconsistent in how they have applied this test, leaving disparity across the board in how they are treated. However, a number of recent legal decisions have indicated that change could be come as to how loans are handled in bankruptcy cases. President Elect Biden has made statements indicating he would like to see student loans discharged in bankruptcy, and Congress also has bipartisan support for similar measures. If student loan cancellation does not occur, this may be the next viable path for student loan reform.    

Employer Paid Student Loans 

The idea of employer paid student loans has gained a lot of support. The CARES Act includes provisions that provide tax incentives for employers to assist their employees with repayment of their loans. Under the CARES Act, employers can make a maximum of $5,250 in tax-free payments towards student loans per employee. The legislation makes both private and federal student loans eligible for this benefit, so long as the payments go towards principal or interest on what is defined as a “qualified education loan.” Employers have the option of choosing either tuition assistance or student loan repayment, but they cannot choose both options. This legislation was set to expire at the end of 2020, but the new stimulus package passed by Congress shortly around Christmas extended the benefit through the end of 2025. 

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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. 

COVID-19, Credit Card Debt

Credit Card Debt Falls 9 Percent Despite Decline in Economic Conditions

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has hit the country’s economy hard, but this fact does not seem to be reflected in the nation’s credit card debt According to statistics from credit reporting agency, Experian, credit card balances have declined at a record rate in 2020.  

Economic crises tend to lead to a change in consumer behavior. World War II pushed consumers to change their spending habits in ways they had not done before. The COVID-19 pandemic with forced lockdowns and widespread unemployment has likewise put things into perspective for American consumers, pushing them to change their spending habits, as well, including how they use their credit cards.  

Coronavirus, Debt Relief

Mortgage Debt Reaches Record High of $10 Trillion

The American housing market is booming, even though various aspects of the nation’s economy are struggling due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.  During the last quarter of 2020, the nation’s mortgage debt load reached a record high of $10 trillion, according to figures from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Low interest rates for home mortgages is a big catalyst for this boom in the housing market.  

Consumers are taking advantage of record low interest rates when making home purchases. At the start of November 2020, mortgage rates reached a 12th record low in 2020.  As a result, mortgage debt jumped by $85 billion between July and September 2020, reaching a high of $9.86 trillion.  

Foreclosure Defense, Foreclosures

Tax Implications Homeowners Facing Foreclosure Encounter from the CARES Act

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has thrown countless Americans into a financial tailspin. Many consumers were pushed out of jobs and put into the position where they are not able to pay the most basic of living expenses, including mortgage payments, to stay in their homes. As the pandemic continues, these homeowners are now put in a terrifying position, facing the real possibility that they could lose their homes.

At the start of the pandemic, lawmakers worked hard to try to keep Americans from facing this possibility by passing the CARES Act. One major part of this stimulus package was the ability for borrowers who carried federally backed mortgages to request a forbearance for up to 180 days on their loan obligations. The hope was this measure would give distressed homeowners breathing room and a chance to stay in their homes during this time of financial difficulty. If needed, borrowers could then request an additional 180 days of relief.

Coronavirus, COVID-19, Foreclosure Defense, Foreclosures

Governor DeSantis Issues Amended Executive Order on Foreclosures and Evictions

The statewide moratorium on evictions and foreclosures during the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis has been extended via an executive order issued by Gov. Ron DeSantis. However, critics are questioning the language within the order itself as to just what it means for Florida residents facing evictions or foreclosures.

The executive order was signed and announced on July 29. However, the amended language in this new executive order does not prevent all evictions and foreclosures like the previous one did.

Bankruptcy Law, Lawyers in the News

Bankruptcy Attorney Timothy S. Kingcade Interviewed by The Miami Herald

With about one out of every nine Miami-Dade workers — and nearly one out of every six in Broward — still out of a job due to the coronavirus pandemic, a question lingers in South Florida: How long can the region stave off an even worse economic disaster?

After a rough start, Florida’s unemployment system has come online to furnish tens of thousands of local workers with as much as $875 per week in unemployment insurance — the state’s standard $275, plus an extra $600 through the emergency U.S. CARES Act passed in March. But Florida’s unemployment insurance lasts only 12 weeks. And the extra $600 from Congress is set to expire July 31. Greater Miami ranks as one of the hardest hit metros in the country, thanks to its reliance on a tourism industry that has instantly dried up.

Coronavirus, COVID-19, Financial Advice

When You Should Use Your Emergency Fund

Financial experts recommend that consumers put away a little money every paycheck towards an “emergency fund.”  This money is meant to cover the ‘unexpected expense,’ whether that be a car repair, medical bill, or essential home repair. With the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and many people losing their jobs, it may be time to utilize your emergency fund.

Financial Hardship

One of the most common circumstances where a person would utilize their emergency fund is in response to financial hardship. The stimulus funds offered by the CARES Act helped for a short period of time, and many landlords, mortgage holders, credit card companies and other creditors have been willing to work with individuals who are struggling to pay their bills as a result of this crisis. However, even with that help, a person may still need to take some money from their emergency savings to pay for bills that need paid. Once your income returns, then begin replenishing the money taken from savings.

COVID-19, Credit Score

Tips to Protect Your Credit Score During the Coronavirus Pandemic

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has put many Americans in a difficult financial situation. While many are out of work either temporarily or permanently, others have found their salaries cut indefinitely as companies ride out the pandemic. The financial struggles that countless consumers are facing has put their own personal financial situations at risk, including their credit scores. Here are some tips to help protect your credit score during the pandemic.

File for Unemployment.

One of the first things a person should do after being laid off due to the pandemic is to file for unemployment. Due to the unprecedented conditions brought on by the COVID-19, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) expanded the eligibility terms for unemployment benefits.  These benefits now extend to freelancers and contract workers. Additionally, the CARES Act has provided an additional $600 per week for those who qualify.