Before, During, and After College: Plans of the Presidential Candidates for Your Student Loans

March 3 is Super Tuesday. Americans in 16 states will vote for Democratic presidential candidates. Whether you’ll vote then or later, you should understand each candidate’s plans regarding a critical national issue — postsecondary education affordability.

Today, we focus on the candidates’ plans for student loans.

Donald Trump’s campaign website offers no plans about anything, including postsecondary affordability. Nevertheless, on February 12 we reviewed his FY 2021 student loan budget plans. As for the leading Democratic candidates — Joe Biden, Mike Bloomberg, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren — here are their student loan plans . . .

Interest Rate

Sanders: Wants to reduce the cap on FDLP student loan interest rates to 1.88% — far below current interest rates ranging from 5.05% to 7.6%.

Collection and Repayment

Biden, Bloomberg, and Buttigieg: Want to cut Federal Direct Loan Program’s (FDLP’s) Income-Based Repayment (IBR) plan’s monthly payment amounts in half — from 10% to 5% of borrowers’ discretionary incomes.

Biden: Would also exempt FDLP borrowers from payments and interest whenever their earnings are below $25,000.

Buttigieg: Would automatically put FDLP borrowers into IBR if they fall behind on payments or indicate they’re having trouble making payments. He’d also subject federal student loan servicing contractors to more rigorous oversight and standards. Regarding private student loans, he wants to protect family members from being held responsible for repayment if the borrowers die, and stop such loans from going into default based on co-signer death or bankruptcy.

Klobuchar: Would strive for legislation allowing borrowers to refinance their federal and private student loans at lower interest rates.

Student Loan Forgiveness in General

Sanders and Warren: Offer the broadest forgiveness plans. He’d cancel all existing student loan debt — federal, state, and private. She’d forgive up to $50,000 in student loan debt owed by 95% of all borrowers.

Klobuchar: Is on record rejecting widespread forgiveness, but would eliminate undergraduate FDLP debt remaining after 20 years of IBR payments by employees in “in-demand jobs.”

Biden, Bloomberg, and Buttigieg: Support an existing rule forgiving FDLP debt that remains after 20 years of IBR.

Biden and Bloomberg: Would make 20-year IBR forgiveness tax-free, although Bloomberg would limit this to households with incomes below $250,000.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)

Biden: Calls for legislation making private student loans forgiveable under bankruptcy.

Bloomberg, Buttigieg, and Klobuchar: Seek FDLP debt cancellation for borrowers who attended predatory for-profit schools that put them into unaffordable debts without viable job prospects.

Bloomberg: Wants a pilot program forgiving FDLP debts for borrowers in professions that fulfill “targeted labor-market needs.”

Biden: Wants to fix PSLF, which the Trump administration has mismanaged so badly that 99% of applicants have been denied it. He’d also automatically enroll FDLP borrowers in a new program forgiving $10,000/year for up to 5 years of national and community service.

Buttigieg: Wants to reform PSLF to forgive 5% of borrower’s FDLP debts for each of their first 3 years of public service, 10% after each of their next 4 years in such service, and 15% for each of another 3 years as public servants.

Bloomberg: Calls for all qualified borrowers who applied for PSLF in good faith to get it.

Klobuchar: Would provide more flexibility to meet PSLF requirements while providing borrowers with better information on PSLF eligibility and their progress toward it.

Next

This Friday — the candidates’ other postsecondary affordability plans.

Have questions on these plans? Contact College Affordability Solutions at (512) 366-5354 or collegeafford@gmail.com.

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