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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.
Co-Signer Requirements of Student Loans Most government-issued student loans dont require a co-signer. Federal Stafford student loans and Perkins student loans are awarded to students without a credit check or co-signer. The one exception would be federal Grad PLUS loans which are credit-based graduate loans. Federal PLUS loans for parents are also credit-based and may in certain cases require a co-signer for the parents to be able to take out the loan. However the credit requirements for federal PLUS parent loans and for federal Grad PLUS student loans are much less stringent than the credit requirements for non-federal private student loans. Private student loans are credit-based loans issued by private lenders or banks.
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For borrowers who are on the governments income-based repayment plan any outstanding federal college loans can be discharged prior to full repayment if the borrower has made her or his monthly loan payments for 25 years. Borrowers who go to work for the government or the public sector can have their federal college loans forgiven after 10 years. Federal college loans can also be forgiven in the event the borrower dies or becomes permanently disabled. Non-federal private student loans on the other hand arent required to offer any of these payment-deferment or discharge provisions. It is at the lenders discretion whether to offer a struggling borrower deferred or lower monthly loan payments and even whether to discharge the private student loan upon the borrowers death or permanent disability.
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.