student loans

Joe Biden’s Student Loan Plan: What’s in It for You?

The future of student loan debt could look quite a bit different, if President-elect Joe Biden gets his way (and Congress cooperates). From loan forgiveness to free tuition for some, the college landscape could be changing.

When the CARES Act was passed in March, payments were suspended and the interest rate was temporarily set to 0% for federal student loans.  The student loan relief is set to expire on Jan. 31, 2021.  Will President-elect Joe Biden extend the temporary relief?  No one knows.

While there is uncertainty about what will happen after Jan. 20, 2021, we have an idea of the long-term changes that might be coming to student loans when Biden takes office.

These proposals will have to be approved by Congress to become law, but here is a summary of what Biden has proposed so far with regards to student loans.

Cancellation of up to $10,000 per borrower

On March 22, 2020, Biden tweeted that he would cancel up to $10,000 for each borrower of federal student loans.  This cancellation was originally proposed by the Democrats to be included in the CARES Act.  It did not make it into the act, but it is possible that the Biden administration will include the $10,000 cancellation as part of a future stimulus package.

Monthly payment capped at 5% of your income

The Biden Plan for Education Beyond High School includes changes to the current repayment and forgiveness programs for federal loans.  Currently, borrowers in Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) plans are required to pay 10%-20% of their income over the federal poverty line toward their student loans.  The Biden Plan would limit that to 5% of income over $25,000.   Also, there would be no monthly payments required and no interest accrual for individuals making less than $25,000 a year.

Automatic enrollment in IDR and forgiveness

New and existing federal student loans will be automatically enrolled in the IDR plan.  Borrowers have the choice to opt-out.  This is a major change to the current complex system.  Under the current federal system, borrowers pick and enroll in one of many available plans, which can be confusing. According to the proposed plan, the remaining balance of the loan will also be forgiven automatically after 20 years of payments are made.  There would be no income tax on the forgiven amount in this new long-term forgiveness program. 

Public Service Loan Forgiveness

Biden’s proposal suggests putting a cap on the amount of forgiveness a borrower can get in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program.  Again, the enrollment in the PSLF is automatic for “individuals working in schools, government, and other non-profit settings.”  However, the amount of PSLF forgiveness is $10,000 of undergraduate or graduate debt for every year of qualifying service, for up to five years, which means that the maximum amount of forgiveness would be $50,000, in contrast to the unlimited amount under the current rules.  Although this may be bad news for borrowers who were hoping to get more than $50,000 forgiven tax-free, the proposed plan allows up to five years of prior national or community service to count towards PSLF.

Private Student Loan Discharge

It has generally been very difficult to get student loans discharged in bankruptcy.

Biden has promised to enact legislation from the Obama-Biden administration to permit the discharge of private student loans in bankruptcy.

Tuition-free colleges and universities

The Biden Plan also includes ideas for reducing the need for some students to take out student loans in the first place.  The plan proposes making public colleges and universities tuition-free for all families with incomes below $125,000.  These tuition-free colleges and universities would include community colleges and state colleges and no private colleges, except for private Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) or Minority-Serving Institutions (MSI). Only tuition and related expenses would be free.  Students and their families would still pay for other expenses, such as room and board. 

Again, these plans will not become law unless approved by Congress. But it’s good to keep track of the changes in the law that may affect your student loans and repayment strategy.  If you need help coming up with a strategy, contact a professional with student loan expertise for help!

About the Author

Saki Kurose, CSLP®, IAR

Associate Planner, Insight Financial Strategists

Saki Kurose is a Certified Student Loan Professional (CSLP®) and a candidate for the CFP® certification.  As an associate planner at Insight Financial Strategists, she enjoys helping clients through their financial challenges. Saki is particularly passionate about working with clients with student loans to find the best repayment strategy that aligns with their goals.

Most Popular

Your Guide to Roth Conversions
Special Report
Tax Breaks

Your Guide to Roth Conversions

A Kiplinger Special Report
February 25, 2021
25 Best Kirkland Products You Should Buy at Costco
Smart Buying

25 Best Kirkland Products You Should Buy at Costco

Many of warehouse club Costco's store-branded Kirkland Signature items get high marks for quality and value. Check out our picks.
July 21, 2021
Warning: You May Have to Pay Back Your Monthly Child Tax Credit Payments
Tax Breaks

Warning: You May Have to Pay Back Your Monthly Child Tax Credit Payments

Unlike stimulus checks, you might have to repay your monthly child tax credit payments if you get too much money from the IRS.
July 16, 2021

Recommended

School’s Out for Summer … But Tuition Is Back in the Fall
Paying for College

School’s Out for Summer … But Tuition Is Back in the Fall

Giving the gift of education never goes out of style. Here are some different options for helping out the young person in your life.
July 31, 2021
Are You Itching for an Earlier-Than-Expected Retirement?
retirement planning

Are You Itching for an Earlier-Than-Expected Retirement?

Lots of folks are pulling the rip cord on their careers sooner than they had initially planned. Before you rush to join them, make sure you are really…
July 30, 2021
Plan to Start Repaying Student Loans
Paying for College

Plan to Start Repaying Student Loans

The pandemic-era pause on student loan repayments is scheduled to end September 30. If you can’t afford payments, you have options.
July 29, 2021
OK Boomer vs. Avocado Toast: How to Talk Money Across Generations
personal finance

OK Boomer vs. Avocado Toast: How to Talk Money Across Generations

It’s time to quit the judgmental money blame game. Let’s open up some healthy lines of communication instead. It’s something that can benefit us all, …
July 29, 2021