A new federal program starting in the fall offers hope and relief to millions of students and graduates that have major educational debts, in other words, you will be able to get student loan help. As of July 1, if you have federal loans, you can ask the government to place limit your payment amount to 15% of your income. This is a new income based program that is being offered to those with debt.
If your income is less than one and half time the poverty level you will not have to pay anything on your student loans. For others who qualify for the program, their payment will be 15% of the difference between the budget allowance and their income.
If you are in a public service job, after 10 years of paying on your loans through the income based program, the rest of your debt will be erased. For those who are not in public service jobs but stay current on the income base payments for 25 years will have their debt forgiven as well.
In order to take advantage of the program, limit the amount of money you borrow to federal student loans. As with any loan, make sure to research the loans offered. If you are no longer in school, contact your lender to apply for the income based program. Make sure to apply for the correct program and not one that sounds the same. Some of the similar sounding programs are referred to as Income contingent repayment or income sensitive repayment.
If you are in a public service job, make sure to consolidate your loans and then apply for the program. Private lenders will not offer this program to you. You will need to keep records of your payments and the like so that at the end of the 10 year period, you can apply for the forgiveness portion of the loan program. You are going to have to provide proof that you followed all the rules in order for your loan to be forgiven.
There are some downsides to the program though. For instance, if you qualify but your payments don't cover the interest portion of your loan, your debt will continue to increase until you reach the forgiveness period. There is a chance that you will have to pay taxes on the forgiven amount if you are not in a public service job. Also, if you have defaulted on your loans, the program will not lower your payments. If you have gone into default, you will not qualify for the program at all.
There are several types of loans that the program does not cover. These loans include private, alternative or signature loans. Parent loans are not covered either.
Finally, if your income is high enough that your loans are less than 15% of your income, regardless of what other debt you may have, you won't qualify either. If you think that all this fine print will disqualify you, don't worry. There are several groups who are lobbying at this time to have improvements made to the program. Congress is already looking at making changes.