It is not difficult to take out student loans, especially through private lenders who will usually give borrowers as much as they need. In fact it’s almost effortless at the time, but this is putting students in big trouble later. One of the most noticeable issues seems to be the large number of available options when students are looking to take out loans and the small amount of confusing information that is available about repayment options post-graduation.
In March, President Obama took the stand to talk about student loans, proposing a “Student Aid Bill of Rights” to offer improvements to the current situation. In the past Obama has been a big supporter of student loan relief, creating the Pay As You Earn repayment plan and making changes to the current forgiveness programs, which has caused people to incorrectly call these plans the Obama Student Loan Forgiveness programs. However, with a current outstanding national student loan debt of $1.3 trillion, this country remains in crisis and we need to provide more protection for its student loan borrowers. Here are 3 of the changes the student loan industry needs now.
“We can and should do much more to give students affordable ways to meet their responsibilities and repay their loans,” Mr. Obama wrote in the executive order. “Now is the time for stronger protections.”
1. The right to quality customer service, reliable information, and fair treatment
The Situation Now: Currently, the “bad” surrounding private student loan lenders outweigh the good. Borrowers are constantly faced with customer service dead ends, lost paperwork and a lack of information about all the options that are available to them. Both private lenders like Navient and government-backed federal lenders are making more money from defaulted student loans than loans that are in good standing. Between 2007 and 2012, the Department of Education made $66 billion in profit from loans in default. This creates a huge discord between lenders who are trying to make a profit and borrowers who are trying to climb out of student loan debt. So there is no benefit for the lenders to push their customers to make on-time payments.
The Plan: The Department of Education has set up a “Centralized Complaint System” but I find it hard to believe that will make a noticeable impact when it goes live next year. While we wait for this “complaint system” to go live, the country’s private lenders have been caught overcharging late fees, misinforming or not informing borrowers at all about repayment options and making the largest profits off of Americans who are unable to make their loan payments. We need to be able to trust our loan servicers.
This country has a long way to go to get on top of the student debt crisis but if we start with nationwide access to affordable higher education, affordable repayment plans and terms and loan servicers we can trust, we may be on the right path. If you’re unsure if you are eligible for a Student Loan Forgiveness Program, check us out at studentdebtusa.com or give us a call.
2. The right to an affordable repayment plan
The Situation Now: Currently 14 percent of all student loans are in default. We currently have a multitude of income-based repayment plans available for qualified borrowers with federal loans, carrying perks like full loan forgiveness after 20-25 years. The forgiveness part is key as we are starting to see more and more retired senior citizens struggle to keep their social security checks from being garnished to pay down old student loans.
The Plan: Currently only 15 percent of borrowers eligible for student loan forgiveness programs are enrolled. There is a lack of knowledge about these new programs from a borrower's standpoint and inadequately educated loan servicers failing to tell eligible borrowers about their repayment options. This often results in the borrower falling into default, which means a larger profit for the loan servicer.
93 percent of all new student loans are being taken out through the federal government meaning there will continue to be more and more borrowers eligible for student loan forgiveness programs. One of the largest reasons the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program and the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Programs were created is to give people an additional reason to seek public service and educational positions, which are currently careers that are understaffed. Student Debt USA is trying to educate as many borrowers as possible about the options. We need to shed as much light on these affordable repayment plans as we can.
3. Access for everyone to a quality, affordable education
The Situation Now: Let’s put today’s situation in perspective. In 1974, the average American family earned approximately $13,000 a year. A 4-year private college cost around $2,000 a year (around 1/6th of the family’s yearly income) and public university was $510 a year.
Today’s family income has risen slightly, to about $64,000. Tuition at a private university now costs an average of $31,000 a year; (Almost 1/2 of the family’s entire income) and public tuition at$9,000/year. For the average American family, this change is increasingly pushing higher education further and further out of reach. Last year only 65.9 percent of high school graduates enrolled in college, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The Plan: According to the President’s Student Loan Bill of Rights proposal, community college would become free. This plan would help the 9 million Americans who currently attend community colleges and would make the first two years of school free to students who start at a community college and transfer to a 4-year university later.
If you are having a hard time negotiating repayment terms, or just making on-time payments, contact us. At Student Debt USA, we know the ins and outs of the available forgiveness programs and will find you the best program for your situation.