One of the key demands of the Occupy Wall Street protestors is student loan forgiveness, but it doesn’t look like Americans are behind it. More than 640,000 people have already signed a petition asking that student loan debt be erased, yet The Huffington Post reports a new Rasmussen poll finds 66% of Americans oppose forgiveness of all student loans. Only 21% of those polled believe the nearly $1 trillion dollars of loans for education made by the federal government should be forgiven.
Student loans are clearly a massive burden, and will only remain so as the cost of a college education rises higher and higher. Yesterday, the Department of Education announced that they have have become the second largest source of debt for Americans, surpassing even credit card debt.
President Obama is attempting to ease the burden of student loans, having announced a new program this week that will make them easier to pay off. If you are still crushed by student debt, or concerned about your children’s debt, here are some highlights of the plan you’ll want to know:
- Some will be able to cap monthly loan repayments at 10 percent of their discretionary income. This will lower monthly payments for an estimated 1.6 million people.
- Those with Direct Loans and Federal Family Education Loans will be able to consolidate them into one monthly payment and slightly lower their interest rate.
- After 20 years, any remaining debt on unpaid federal student loans will be completely forgiven.
- To qualify, borrowers must have student loans in 2012 and have had loans in at least one of the previous four years. The New York Times explains eligibility further, “PLUS loans that some graduate students have taken out in recent years are eligible. Perkins Loans and many federal loans for people entering health professions are not eligible … Also, if you’re in default on the loans, you won’t be eligible.”
It’s important to note that this program applies only to federal student loans and not those made by private companies like Sallie Mae.
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