For nearly 15 years, Trigue “Spike” Magellsen says he paid off his student loans in earnest every month, slowly getting away from the original debt of $ 53,000, even medical bills, a home. Reform loans and other costs left him “financially” wall. “
Then in late 2018, Montsen, who was an associate professor of electrical technology at Montana State University-Northern, wondered if he could benefit from Congress’s temporary expansion of the so-called Public Service Debt Waiver Program. Public servants, including teachers, health care workers, and law enforcement, can apply under certain requirements, and must make 10 years’ worth of payments before the remainder of the loan is wiped out.
But after contacting a federal student loan office for help, Magellsen finds out that his previous payments cannot be counted retroactively. Furthermore, even if he did enroll, he realized that he could pay off the remaining portion of his debt in the shortest time, as he would meet the 10-year threshold.
“It was a dead end,” said Magalsen, whose current student loan is about $ 21,500, primarily consisting of interest.
For student borrowers like Magelsen, who missed applying or could qualify if they knew about the program sooner, they are hoping that the next administration under President-Elect Joe Biden would have protected their interests Hua would throw them a financial lifeline, especially during an epidemic that has left millions of Americans unemployed or underrepresented.
These borrowers may get their wish.
Biden has said that he will deal with debt forgiveness for public servants by providing $ 10,000 student loan relief for each year of service for up to five years. This includes working in a school, for the government or in a non-profit setting. Student borrowers will be automatically enrolled according to his plan, and previous “national or community service” will also allow a borrower to qualify.
According to the Brookings Institution, a Washington-based think tank, the nation’s 45 million student loan takers take an estimated $ 1.7 trillion in student loan debt – less than total mortgage debt but more than credit cards.
“It should be done immediately,” Biden told reporters last week about his student loan forgiveness plan.
But he did not commit to a more expansive student loan forgiveness program or even other Democrats’ demands to cancel loans as part of his higher education agenda.
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During a news conference on Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y. , Urged Biden to issue an executive order after going to office to begin his proposal for student loan relief.
“Higher education should be a ladder,” Schumer said. “Student debt is an anchor around these children’s ankles.”
Schumer, along with Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. And other Democrats, have outlined a plan to take action immediately after Biden became president, including exercising executive authority to ensure that the federal There is no tax liability for student loan borrowers.
Some economists and policymakers have questioned the economy’s benefits as to whether student loans are forgiven and how the Biden administration will pay its costs, which are estimated to be in the billions.
It is also uncertain whether Biden will replace Betsy DeVos as head of the Department of Education. Meanwhile, advocates for student borrowers say that if Republicans retain control of the Senate, a divided Congress could derail substantial student loan reform efforts or for Biden to reverse some policies enacted under the Trump administration Can make it difficult.
A report released this week by student loan experts and advocates entitled, “Deliverance on Debt Relief,” argues that the approach – administrative action or law – is not mutually exclusive and will depend on circumstances and specific debt relief programs, Joe Biden Try administration reform.
Student advocacy groups say that the Public Service Debt Waiver Program needs a major change. The 2019 Government Accountability Office report found that under the DIOS, the Department of Education rejected 99 percent of applications as part of an expanded debt waiver program.
“These programs have broken down,” said Seth Frotman, executive director of the Student Borrowers Protection Center, a consumer advocacy group that worked on the report. “They have broken up due to inefficiencies in the Ed department or due to illegal practices by gainful colleges and hunter schools. The ensuing Biden administration, at its most basic work, has a chance to improve the lives of millions.”
Biden says he also supports forgiving student loans forgiven by students who were cheated by for-profit colleges.
DeVos was criticized for hiring many industry insiders and for stabilizing Obama-era regulations that increased safety for students. But the Department of Education defended its actions, stating that the people hired were “highly qualified” and reused themselves when necessary.
Borrower Theresa Sweet, a Bay Area student who was the lead plaintiff in the 2019 lawsuit against DeVos, said Wednesday that she had lost faith in an education department that she believed would protect students’ interests was.
His lawsuit, brought by attorneys with the Project on Predatory Student Lending at Harvard Law School, alleges that DeVos stopped a program known as Borrower Defense to illegally repay debt, dating back to the 1990s era. Regulations that were expanded under the Obama administration and called borrowers cheating are eligible for federal loan forgiveness by their schools.
But after a settlement agreement in April in which DeVos committed no wrongdoing, but promised to immediately postpone the program, the Department of Education began denying blankets to student borrowers – setting up an ongoing legal dispute Which may eventually end under the next administration.
The Department of Education did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday, when a judge ruled that student borrowers would not have to make loan payments until the case was resolved.
Sweet, a nursing assistant, said the Biden administration should ensure that the law is in force.
“If there is no next DOE Secretary borrower swinging for defense, I think we’re still going to fight,” he said. “And I will keep on fighting until this situation finds a measure of justice.”