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With the unemployment rate soaring toward 10 percent and the average starting salary for college graduates down 2.2 percent this year student loan borrowers - whose average debt from student loans tops $22000 - are now having an even tougher time affording their student loan payments. The good news? Starting July 1 2009 graduates with federal college loans may be able to qualify for a new government program that can reduce the monthly payments on their student loans based on their income. Income-Based Repayment for Federal Student Loans The income-based repayment program created by Congress in 2007 as part of the College Cost Reduction and Access Act will cap a borrowers monthly student loan payments at a percentage of her or his income when the borrowers income is at least 50 percent higher than the current federal poverty line for the borrowers family size.
Last week financial aid officers at Texas A&M University - a school with over 54000 students - heard from seven different lenders warning that they would no longer be able to offer federal student loans a situation that has made more than a few borrowers uneasy. Dyneche Duffield an incoming college student headed to Houston Baptist University is uncomfortable with the prospect of having to establish a relationship with a new lender other than her local bank which used to offer student loans. "I would have much rather taken out a loan there than somewhere where I didnt know anyone" Duffield said. While students like Duffield may still be able to go directly to the Department of Education for their federal college loans or find those remaining lenders who are still offering private student loans (albeit with more stringent credit criteria that are making it harder for students to qualify) the magnitude of the problem within the student loan credit markets and how deeply it has permeated the college loan industry is alarming to many administrators and officials in higher education.
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Some of the benefits and advantages of federal student loans is given below. Unlike other forms of consumer debt student loans receive special protections under current laws ranging from collection to bankruptcy. This special status applies not only to the primary borrower (the student) but also to any co-signer on the loan. Student loans are one of the hardest types of debt to shake. Current U.S. bankruptcy law allows a court to discharge these loans in bankruptcy only in the narrowest circumstances. In fact the legal requirements for discharging education loans are so formidable to meet that most bankruptcy attorneys avoid student loan cases altogether. Since so few loan borrowers qualify for bankruptcy discharge under the law the vast majority of loan debt is carried until the borrower repays the loan or dies -- although some non-federal student loans even survive death passing the debt on to the borrowers co-signer.
10. After 25 years of repayment the remaining balance was forgiven. In 1996 the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 allowed Social Security benefit payments to be offset to repay defaulted federal education loans. 11. In 1998 the Higher Education Amendments of 1998 struck the provision allowing education loans to be discharged after 7 years in repayment. 12. In 2001 the US Department of Education began offsetting up to 15% of social security disability and retirement benefits to repay defaulted federal education loans. In 2005 "the law change" as we call it in the Bankruptcy field further narrowed the exception to discharge to include most private student loans. Since private student loans were given protection from discharge in bankruptcy there has been no reduction in the cost of those loans.