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Student loan forgiveness may be on the way. What to do in the meantime

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When could forgiveness happen?

If Biden chooses to cancel the debt through executive action, borrowers could in theory see their balances reduced or eliminated fairly quickly. But such a move may be met by court challenges, which could lead to delays.

A clearer picture may soon emerge.

“If Biden decides he can do it through promulgation, I expect we̵

7;ll hear about it by June or July,” said Betsy Mayotte, president of the Institute of Student Loan Advisors.

If the White House chooses to leave student loan forgiveness to Congress, Democrats are likely to use the budget voting process to get it done.

This is because this process allows them to pass legislation by simple majority, which is all they have. Other bills typically require 60 votes to advance thanks to the Senate Rules of Procedure. Republicans are largely hostile to the idea of ​​a student debt anniversary.

The next budget voting process is likely to be in the autumn.

Can I trust that my student loans will be forgiven?

Although the odds of student borrowers getting their balances reduced or eliminated have never been greater, “until legislation is signed into law, you can not trust anything,” Kantrowitz said.

Currently, reports from the U.S. Department of Education and the Department of Justice are awaiting whether the president has the legal authority to implement loan forgiveness through executive action, Kantrowitz said. It is still unclear when the results will be published.

Meanwhile, he added, “borrowers should not take any violent action in anticipation of loan forgiveness.”

How much can one forgive?

Currently, the main point of contention among student loan forgiverers is over the amount of debt to be scrapped: $ 10,000 or $ 50,000.

If all federal student borrowers were forgiven $ 10,000 of their debt, the country’s outstanding education debt would fall to about $ 1.3 trillion, from $ 1.7 trillion, according to Kantrowitz. And about a third of federal student borrowers or 15 million people would see their balances reset.

The $ 50,000 cancellation for all borrowers, on the other hand, will reduce the country’s outstanding student loan debt to $ 700 billion from $ 1.7 trillion. Meanwhile, the debt of 80% of federal student loans or 36 million people would be completely gone.

Even under the more generous plan, not everyone would be completely satisfied. One-fifth of federal student borrowers owe more than $ 50,000, and about 7% of borrowers owe more than six figures.

With forgiveness on the table, do I still have to make payments?

Most federal student borrowers do not have to pay their bills until October, during which time interest is suspended.

Since $ 10,000 in student loan forgiveness is the proposal that is most likely to come true, Mayotte said she sees nothing wrong with people who owe less than that amount, redirecting their usual savings payments, “earning little interest. on them and then see which way the wind blows come August. “

“If it seems like we are no closer to forgiveness, then pay the money,” she said.

Even if you owe more than $ 10,000, it may still be wise to take advantage of the government’s break with student loan payments. You can e.g. Use the extra cash to obliterate high-interest credit or to build up your emergency savings.

Is there anything else I need to do in the meantime?

There are some smart moves you can take in anticipation of student loan forgiveness, experts say.

Millions of people who took out student loans by 2010 under the Federal Family Education Loan program have been excluded from the government’s offer to suspend their payments without interest.

There is now some concern that these borrowers may also be excluded from any student loan forgiveness.

As a result, these borrowers may want to consolidate their FFEL loans into the most important direct loan program that will qualify for forgiveness, Kantrowitz said. The biggest downside to doing so is that your refund timeline is reset; so if you are near the end, it may not make sense.

Meanwhile, borrowers considering refinancing their federal student loans at a lower interest rate may wait, Kantrowitz said. First, the interest rate on most federal student loans is 0% for another five months.

What’s more, “they will feel stupid if they only refinance to let the federal government announce loan forgiveness,” Kantrowitz said.

Could my private student loans be forgiven?

“When it comes to private student loans, it seems very unlikely that they will be included in the forgiveness plan,” said Elaine Rubin, senior contributor and communications specialist at Edvisors.

Would my forgiven debt trigger a tax bill?

Student loan forgiveness is now tax-free thanks to a provision included in the $ 1.9 trillion federal coronavirus stimulus package that was enacted in March.

Previously, any debt canceled by the government was considered taxable and charged at the borrower’s normal income tax rate.

According to a rough estimate from Kantrowitz, $ 10,000 in cancellation would have triggered an additional $ 2,000 in taxes for the average borrower. If $ 50,000 per. Borrower was canceled, the average person would have to write the IRS a check for $ 10,000.

Borrowers would now be cut off from these bills.

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