I received this from the Obama campaign last night:
President Obama just took two serious steps to make life a lot easier for folks with student loans — and there’s a good chance you or someone you know will benefit from these changes very soon.
— Effective this January, if you’re someone who has different kinds of loans — guaranteed and direct — you’ll be able to roll them both into one direct loan and bring down your interest rate. You’ll only have to write one check a month, and you’ll see a discount. This switch adds no cost to taxpayers across the board.
— You might remember that, as part of last year’s student loan reform, borrowers’ loan payments could be no higher than 10 percent of their disposable income. This is a big deal — but it wasn’t going to help anyone enrolling before 2014. Today, the President announced that he’s speeding up this program so it will affect students next year — helping over 1 million students. This will have huge consequences for people struggling to make their student loan payments.
Sometimes, it can be hard to see how policy changes will actually affect your day-to-day life.
Not the case with this one. These changes will make a real difference in helping millions of Americans get by month to month.
Let’s consider the impact of each of these orders.
The first would clearly be the most significant, because it is aimed at helping more student loan borrowers. How much would an interest rate reduction of up to 0.5% affect payments?
For the average borrower, the impact would be small. In 2011, Bachelor’s degree recipients graduating with debt had an average balance of $27,204, according to an analysis done byfinaid.org, based on Department of Education data. That average has ballooned from just $17,646 over the past decade.
Using these values as the high and low bounds of average student debt over the last ten years, the monthly savings for the average student loan borrower would be between $4.50 and $7.75 per month. Clearly, this isn’t going to save the economy. While borrowers with bigger balances would save more, this is the average. And even someone with $100,000 in loans would only cut their monthly payments by $28.50.
As mentioned, the government already has a program for borrowers to reduce their student loan payments to a ceiling of 15% of their income. At this time, just 450,000 borrowers are participating. Clearly, all of those participants would benefit from lowering the max payment to 10%. But how many others would?*
Student loan balances have really only ballooned over the past decade. So this change would affect very few Americans over the age of 32. For the young adults who it may effect, we must remember that educational attainment has some correlation to income. Those with the most debt will have attended business school, medical school, or law school. Most of those people will also have higher incomes, making them ineligible. For a person with the average student debt load, their annual income would need to be lower than $32,000** to qualify. The average income for Bachelor’s degree holders aged 25 to 34 is $40,100.
Of all these parts of Obama’s executive order, the loan forgiveness aspect will have the least impact. By moving the timeline from 25 to 20 years, it could be significant in the long run — but it won’t be felt for decades. Remember, 82% of the current student loan debt outstanding was accrued in just the past decade. So it will be at least another 10 years before any of those borrowers have hit the 20-year mark in their student loan payments.
Read it all and understand how duplicitous this administration really is.