Student Loan Care
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.
Other college loans are ineligible: Private student loans. The income-based repayment program applies only to federal student loans. If youre having problems meeting the monthly payments on your private student loans you should contact the lenders to see if theyre willing to work out more affordable repayment plans for you. Keep in mind though that private student loans typically have less flexible repayment options than federal student loans. Federal PLUS loans. If your parents took out PLUS parent loans to help you pay for college they wont be able to take advantage of income-based repayment on their PLUS loans. Consolidation loans that included PLUS parent loans are also excluded from income-based repayment. Any Grad PLUS loans you took out as a graduate student however as well as consolidations of Grad PLUS loans are eligible.
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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.
As a borrowers income rises the income-based repayment cap will also go up. If the income-based repayment cap reaches a level higher than what a borrowers monthly payment would be under a standard 10-year student loan repayment plan the borrower will no longer qualify for income-based repayment for her or his student loans. Borrowers whose adjusted gross income falls below 150 percent of the poverty threshold wont be required to make any payments on those student loans that qualify for income-based repayment. Even if no payments are due however interest will continue to accrue on those college loans . Unpaid interest will also accrue if a borrowers income-based monthly payments arent sufficient to cover the full monthly interest on the qualifying college loans.