Given the recent the longest government shutdown in history, some may be wondering if anything is going to get done this year. Hopefully, the shutdown will end soon, and the government will get back to work creating policies, enacting change and serving the people. With that, take a look at potential changes to student loans for 2019, according to Forbes
1. No more student loan forgiveness.
Within the 2019 education budget established by President Trump and Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, student loan forgiveness would be eliminated. Student loan forgiveness programs enable graduates who work in certain public service fields to have their loans forgiven after ten years of consistent repayment.
But Trump and DeVos believe that too much of the financial burden for this program rests on the taxpayers. Those currently enrolled in the program will be able to finish out the tenure of their loan forgiveness plan but no new borrowers will be able to apply. Again, that is if student loan forgiveness is actually eradicated.
2. Less student loan repayment options.
There are currently eight options for student loan repayment, and in 2019, President Trump would like to combine two of those plans. As repayment plans stand today, two of the eight available are known as PAYE and REPAYE. While there are differences to these plans, they are minimal; and President Trump would like to combine the two in order to lessen confusion over repayment plans.
3. New student loan rates.
Every year, the student loan rate resets on July 1. While this isn’t an unanticipated change, it’s a change nonetheless. What is unexpected, however, are an increase in federal rates, which rose four times throughout 2018. That’s why it’s important to have a loan with a fixed interest rate over a variable interest rate, advises Forbes
. Borrowers with variable interest rates can refinance their loans to get a fixed interest rate.
But what does the new Congress mean for these proposed changes?
With a Republican-controlled Congress, President Trump would have experienced less conflict on his proposed student loan changes for 2019. But with Democrats taking control of the House during the 2018 midterm elections, Trump may experience some push back. Additionally, the Democrat-led House may have their own student loan policies to enact this year.
Last summer, House Democrats introduced the Aim Higher Act, which is a re-authorization of Lyndon B. Johnson’s Higher Education Act, according to The Hill
. The bill seeks to enlarge Public Service Loan Forgiveness, increase Pell Grant funding and revise income-driven repayment plans. While the bill did not move forward last year, it could see more momentum with a Democrat-controlled House.
Just to reiterate: most of these student loan changes are merely proposals – outside of the student loan rate increase. But it’s important for student borrowers to be aware of what’s on the horizon as they navigate student loan repayment.