student loan debt, Student Loans

Debt Cancellation for Disabled Borrowers Reinstated by the Department of Education

The U.S. Department of Education announced recently that they will cancel federal student loan debt for borrowers who are no longer able to work due to disabilities. This announcement affects tens of thousands of borrowers currently paying on outstanding federal student loan balances.   

Student loan advocates say that this small step is the first of many to help reform the student lending system, including opening debt forgiveness to groups who are legally entitled to receive it but have not yet received debt forgiveness.  

According to an investigation conducted by NPR, 28 percent of eligible student loan borrowers have either had their loans completely erased or are on track to be erased through the “Total and Permanent Disability Discharge” program. This number is alarmingly low. According to the Department of Education, more than 41,000 borrowers have permanent disabilities. These 41,000 borrowers owe a collective $1.3 billion in student loan debts that would otherwise be eligible for discharge.  

Many of these disabled borrowers had previously had their loans erased. However, once the COVID-19 pandemic hit, they struggled to submit required income-monitoring documentation, resulting in these loans being restored. The Department of Education announced that borrowers who are currently required to submit income-monitoring information will not have to do this for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. Waiving this requirement will help ensure that borrowers who are totally and permanently disabled will not be hurt by their inability to submit required paperwork during this health crisis.  

For several decades, federal law has made it possible for borrowers who are no longer able to work and earn an income to support themselves due to a severe and permanent disability to receive relief from their student loan debt. While the goals behind the law are admirable, the execution has left much to be desired. Between March 2016 and September 2019, NPR reported that only 28 percent of those eligible for debt forgiveness actually received it.  

NPR also reported that of the 365,000 borrowers who are eligible for this relief, 225,000 had defaulted on their student loan obligations.  

Many argue that the problem with the system has to do with the fact that disabled borrowers have the actively seek out the loan forgiveness. The requirements placed on these borrowers to respond to eligibility notices and report their income qualifications have left many of them to fall through the cracks. Requiring someone who is already struggling with a debilitating disability, such as chronic memory loss or other illness, to keep up with required paperwork places a substantial burden on these individuals.  

NPR also reported that in 2019, tens of thousands of borrowers asked for assistance, had their student loans conditionally discharged, and then had them reinstated due to the failure to keep up with the annual paperwork. Critics argue that this paperwork requirement forces the borrowers to do too much just to prove that they are not able to work. In fact, income-monitoring has consistently been a problem for many disabled borrowers. 

Representatives from the Department of Education say that they hope this change will alleviate some of that pressure, at least temporarily.  Student loan reform advocates believe that this change needs to be a permanent one, at least when it comes to requiring permanently disabled borrowers to continually provide proof of their inability to work.  

Please click here to read more.  

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. 

student loan debt, Student Loans

Student Debt Cancellation Bill Scheduled to be Signed into Law this Week

Congress has passed a $1.9 trillion stimulus package that includes important provisions concerning student loan cancellation, as well as increased federal regulations on for-profit colleges.   

Several different objectives were met by Congressional leaders through the passing of this legislation. One of the biggest goals was to address the tax burden that student loan borrowers face when receiving any portion of their student loan debt forgiven. Up until now, whenever a borrower received forgiveness for any portion of his or her student loan debt, the amount that was forgiven was considered taxable income. Under this legislation, tax forgiveness will be treated as tax free for the next several years.  

The tax relief portion of the bill is good through January 2026. Lawmakers believe that this is a good first step in cancelling the estimated $1.5 trillion in federal student loans currently held by nearly 45 million American consumers. 

Essentially, these measures are seen as a good first step in accomplishing the goal set by President Biden to cancel $50,000 in student loan debt for all borrowers. Without this tax-free benefit, financial analysts were concerned as to how this forgiven amount would be treated for tax purposes.  

Additional financing from the legislation will be distributed directly to both public and private institutions. Colleges and universities that receive these funds are required to spend at least of what is disbursed on emergency grants to students.  

Another provision in the relief bill includes a measure closing the 90-10 loophole which governs how GI Bill money is counted by public and private institutions. For years, for-profit schools have been criticized for how they have recruited both active military service members and veterans. Colleges and universities are currently required to receive in at least 10 percent of their revenue from sources other than the federal government. If the institution is not able to meet that requirement, they are barred from receiving some of the $100 billion the federal government issues annually in student aid. 

For-profit institutions were taking advantage of a loophole that would otherwise allow them to count money received from service members and veterans as part of that 10 percent and not part of federal funding. Advocates have argued that this loophole caused for-profit institutions to aggressively recruit military service members and veterans in an effort to meet the requirement. As many of these for-profit institutions have ended up shuttering and leaving their students high and dry with no diploma and out money, this included these same service members and veterans who they actively recruited.  

Under this new legislation, GI Bill dollars will now be counted as federal money. Due to the pushback lawmakers received from conservative lawmakers, a bipartisan amendment was made to the bill, changing the date for when GI Bill dollars will be counted as federal money to October. Additionally, this change will not occur until the institutions’ 2023 fiscal year. 

Controversy aside, this legislation is being heralded as the largest federal effort made thus far to help both students and families who are struggling during this pandemic due to reduced wages and/or lost jobs. Further, the funds will assist colleges and universities who are facing their own struggles, seeing higher expenses and a sharp decline in revenues as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.   

Please click here to read more.  

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, student loan debt

New PPP Loan Rules Make It Easier for Student Loan Borrowers to Obtain Funds

New rules with respect to who can receive financial assistance through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) will open the door for struggling student loan borrowers who have previously been unable to qualify for the PPP loan program. These new regulations took effect on March 1, 2021.  

The funds received through the PPP were meant to offer financial assistance to struggling businesses, allowing them to stay in operation during the COVID-19 pandemic. For the most part, these loans are forgiven later. Previously, any business that was owned 20 percent or more by an individual who had defaulted on his or her student loan payments was considered ineligible for PPP loan assistance. This rule clearly shut out a large group of individuals and businesses who arguably could use the governmental assistance.  

The Biden administration has changed this rule, effective March 1, 2021. A default or delinquency on student loan payments will not automatically disqualify a PPP loan applicant. This change comes along with several others, including priority access for businesses employing 20 or fewer individuals.  

Over the past several years, student loan debt has surpassed credit card and auto debt with over 42 million Americans carrying some amount of student loan debt. Of this number, approximately one-third of them are in either delinquency or default on these loans.  

According to a report by the Center for Responsible Lending, a large number of these borrowers are self-employed. Approximately 800,000 self-employed Americans are reportedly behind on their student loan payments. Additionally, 500,000 minorities have also be excluded from PPP assistance due to the status of their student loans.   Student loan reform advocates have praised this change, saying that small business owners have been bearing the brunt of the financial struggles suffered during the COVID pandemic.

Please click here to read more.  

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. 

Debt Relief, student loan debt, Student Loans

White House Considering Executive Action to Cancel Portion of Nation’s Federal Student Loan Debt

The Biden administration is considering issuing an executive order that would effectively cancel some portion of the $1.6 trillion in federal student loan debt held by 43 million Americans. This statement comes as no surprise as student loan forgiveness and student loan reform were consistently topics of discussion during the 2020 Presidential campaign.  

The statement came last Thursday from White House press secretary Jen Psaki. She indicated the administration was looking into whether President Biden had the executive authority to cancel a portion of the nation’s outstanding student loan debt. However, they also indicated that they would welcome any legislation brought forth by Congress to do the same.  

Bankruptcy Law, COVID-19, Medical Debt, student loan debt

Bankruptcy Reform Bill Proposed that will Discharge Student Loans and Medical Debt

The Medical Bankruptcy Fairness Act of 2021 was unveiled by Democratic Senators this week in response to the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. The bill would make substantial reforms to the current bankruptcy code, making it easier for those struggling with student loan debt and medical debt to discharge the same in bankruptcy.

Currently, the bankruptcy code treats student loan debt differently from other types of consumer debt. Borrowers must show they meet the ‘undue hardship’ requirement in order to discharge their student loan debt in bankruptcy.

Debt Relief, student loan debt

Freeze on Student Loan Payments Extended Through September 2021

The U.S. Department of Education has placed a pause on student loan payments through September 2021. This is among the 17 executive actions President Biden has signed since taking office. This Order, along with the extension on eviction and foreclosure moratoriums, are an effort to relieve the economic impact caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Prior to the Order, payments were scheduled to resume at the end of January.

Student loan debt continues to be a national crisis, as debt tops more than $1.6 trillion. What was once a looming financial crisis, has now been exacerbated by job losses and pay cuts caused by the pandemic. Approximately 1 in every 5 student loan borrowers are in default, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Many are struggling to pay for basic necessities and provide for their families. With the extension of the forbearance agreement, borrowers will not be forced to decide between paying their student loans and putting food on the table.

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. 

student loan debt

Student Loan Bankruptcy: A Solution to the Student Loan Debt Crisis

With an estimated $1.6 trillion owed in student loan debt nationwide, it comes as no surprise that solving the student loan crisis has been at the forefront of most political campaigns in 2020. However, many argue that the solution to the problem is much simpler than just forgiving student loan debt. In fact, the answer to solving the student loan crisis could lie in the United States Bankruptcy Code.  

Traditionally, student loans have been all but impossible to discharge in either a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy case. Since the creation of the Higher Education Act in 1965, Congress has continued to add rules that make discharging federal student loan debt more and more difficult in bankruptcy. In 2005, private student loans were added to the list of debts that were difficult to discharge in bankruptcy, regardless of how much the filer was struggling financially. 

student loan debt, Student Loans

Former For-Profit College Operator Settles Bankruptcy Case with Department of Education

A settlement was reached between former for-profit college operator, FCC Holdings Inc., and the U.S. Department of EducationThe $8 million settlement is part of the company’s bankruptcy case and signifies the end of years of legal battles 

FCC Holdings formerly operated 41 for-profit colleges under various names. Before filing for bankruptcy, FCC Holdings sold 14 of their for-profit colleges to another company, International Education Corporation (IEC). IEC still operates 11 of these campuses in Florida and Texas under the name of Florida Career Colleges.

student loan debt, Student Loans

Facing a Broken Student Loan System Borrowers Set Hopes on New Reform Bill

The student loan system has been considered broken for quite some time, and while many reform efforts have been made to help improve the process, nothing has been successful thus far. However, a new student loan reform bill could signal meaningful change is on the way.

This reform bill focuses on how student loan debt is handled in bankruptcy. Traditionally, student loans are non-dischargeable in a personal bankruptcy case, unless a specific set of criteria are met. The “Consumer Bankruptcy Reform Act of 2020,” proposed by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) proposes a way to make this process easier, allowing more student loans to be discharged through personal bankruptcy. The bill addresses both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases and proposes changing the current systems under each chapter by one system, entitled Chapter 10.