By Isabel Pulgarin
Meet Sara, a college graduate from the class of 2015 with a degree in nursing. Today, she works at a local hospital earning $77,000 a year —an average salary for her profession. But, with loan payments of $300 per month, she feels like she’s drowning. Now, with Biden’s new loan relief plan on the horizon, this Christmas will look a wee bit brighter for Sara as will the future of Barry students who may soon receive relief from thousands of dollars of loan debt.
In August, the U.S. Department of Education revealed a three-part debt relief plan for students who borrowed federal loans, fulfilling the Biden-Harris Administration’s 2020 campaign promise. This plan includes borrowers who have finished their degree and even those who have not — just as long as their loans were disbursed by June 30, 2022.
Barry students who received Pell Grants – need-based federal loans – and currently meet the income criteria are eligible to receive $20,000 relief debt. Barry students who never received Pell grants will be eligible for only $10,000.
In a Buccaneer survey of 51 participants, about 41 percent of Barry students have loans totaling $10,000 or more.
“Biden's plan takes a bit of the weight off people's shoulders and gives them one less thing to worry about on top of rent, food, or other bills that need to be paid,” said Diana Morose, a junior communication major.
The main thing to note is that students who have not started paying off their balance as well as those with outstanding balances will be eligible to have their debt cancelled, depending on whether they 1) received at least one Pell Grant and 2) filed for loans on or before June 30, 2022.
Here is the list of the eligible federal loans with outstanding balances as of June 30, 2022:
Undergraduate and Graduate Direct Loans (both subsidized and unsubsidized)
Parent PLUS and Graduate PLUS Loans
Consolidation Loans (underlying loans disbursed before June 30, 2022)
Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program loans held by the U.S. Department of Education or a guaranty agency
Perkins loans held by the U.S. Department of Education
Defaulted loans held by the U.S. Department of Education or commercially serviced
How can you check your Loan Type?
Barry students and alumni can determine their loan types by logging on to StudentAid.gov, selecting “My Aid” in the dropdown menu at the top right corner of the dashboard, and the “Loan Breakdown” section will show the list loans received.
To view the more detailed names, click “View Loans” and the list will expand to show every loan’s details. If the servicer of loans starts with “Dept. of Ed” or “Default Management Collection System,” the loans are federally managed and held by the U.S. Department of Education.
What do I need to qualify for loan relief?
Borrowers can apply for relief if their federal annual income or their adjusted gross income in 2021 or 2020 were below $125,000 for individuals or below $250,000 for married couples or heads of households. Relief is capped at the balance of the outstanding debt.
According to the Office of Federal Student Aid, nearly 8 million borrowers may be eligible to receive debt relief automatically. The U.S. Department of Education will notify these individuals via email and text message.
When should you apply?
According to CNBC, federal student loan borrowers should aim to apply for forgiveness no later than Nov. 15. That’s because of the several weeks waiting period. You want your balance reduced or eliminated by the time the pandemic-era payment pause on federal student loans expires on Dec. 31.
The deadline to apply for loan relief is Dec. 31. Voluntary payments made before Dec. 31 and after application submission will be refunded if the balance at discharge is below the cap on relief. The process takes four to six weeks for relief to arrive. Borrowers can call 1-833-932-3439 after the online application is live.
How does this affect current and future students?
For current and future borrowers, payments will be no more than five percent of their discretionary income monthly on undergraduate loans. Loan balances of $12,000 or less after 10 years of payments will be forgiven. Additionally, the plan offers zero monthly interest on unpaid balances if none are missed.
Brandon Nembhard, a junior finance major, believes President Biden’s plan toward student debt elimination is a step in the right direction, but more is needed to fix the overall education debt bubble.
“Too many people in the nation are suffering financially from seeking higher education and that should not be the case in the land of opportunities,” he said.
Barry students should ensure that their account with StudentAid.gov is updated with correct contact information to stay posted on announcements.