STUDENT LOAN UPDATES FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
June 30, 2016
Student loans are a major issue for Americans. One in four student loans is either in default or at high risk of default. Is one of those loans yours? You should be aware that the Department of Education has recently made some changes to make it easier for people to repay their student loans.
DOE Website with Repayment Options
There is a new Department of Education website to help borrowers to find their options for student loan repayment. The website is http://studentloans.gov/repay. The website will ask borrowers questions about their student loans, current employment, and repayment preferences. These questions include:
Do you want to lower your monthly payment?
Have you ever missed a payment because you could not afford it?
Do you have federal loans?
Did you take out student loans before 2011?
Do you work for the government or a non-profit?
After these questions have been answered, the website will display repayment options and step-by-step instructions about how to apply for those options.
CFPB Payback Playbook
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has created a Payback Playbook to inform borrowers about their various repayment options. This project is an attempt to assist student loan servicers to present personalized repayment options to their borrowers whenever they interact together.
Servicers will be required to provide a comparison of a borrower’s current repayment plan with a description of other available repayment options. This comparison will be available to the borrower via monthly statements, regular email communications, and in the borrower’s online account on the servicer’s website.
The Payback Playbook is still in the “prototype stage,” but you can check it out online at www.consumerfinance.gov/payback-playbook/. Public comment on the Payback Playbook will be available until June 12, 2016. The Payback Playbook will be finalized based on those comments thereafter.
Student Loan Action Guide for Service Members
The CFPB has also created a brochure to assist Service members to deal with their student loans. This brochure is available at http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/documents/201604_cfpb_servicemember-student-loan-guide.pdf.
Student loan options available for service members include:
Reduction of student loan interest rates to 6% when the borrower is on active duty.
0% interest rate for service members in an area of hostile fire.
Perkins Loan Forgiveness for those who served more than a year in an area of hostile fire.
Income-Driven Repayment Plans
HEROES Act waiver
Public Service Loan Forgiveness for 10 years of service.
Total and Permanent Disability Discharge
A Total and Permanent Disability Discharge is a complete release of obligation to repay student loans for borrowers who cannot work because of a disability. The Department of Education requires all disabled borrowers to apply and demonstrate their disability. Examples of a demonstration of disability include documentation from the Department of Veteran Affairs showing the borrower is unemployable or certification from a doctor that the borrower is totally and completely disabled.
All of these programs are important attempts to assist people with their student loans. However, many people still find their student loans confusing and overwhelming. If you need assistance dealing with student loans, we can help you. Call our office and ask about our Student Loan Analysis program today.