Student loan forgiveness discussions are hot topics in the news and from popup businesses that pitch "forgiveness solutions" through TV, Direct Mail, and Internet marketing. Here are some common myths financial advisors and consumers should know.
“I graduated a long time ago, so I can’t benefit from loan forgiveness.”
Borrowers of older loans have more complicated situations. Those with federal loans from before the summer of 2010 may first have to consolidate into a Direct Consolidation Loan before they can begin making payments toward forgiveness.
Those with loans from before the fall of 2007 may have to pay a higher percentage of their income before earning forgiveness. And borrowers with higher incomes will be required to pay more before earning forgiveness. Even so, Public Service Loan Forgiveness can benefit anyone who meets the program requirements, even if they went to school a long time ago.
“I have been working in public service for nearly ten years, so I should qualify for forgiveness soon.”
Working in public service for at least ten years is only one of the many requirements for earning Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Nothing about Public Service Loan Forgiveness is automatic.
“Public Service Loan Forgiveness will probably be eliminated before I can benefit from it.”
It is highly unlikely that any reduction of benefits would be applied to current borrowers who have already made progress toward forgiveness.
Current proposals for change recognize that it would be unfair to change the rules on borrowers midstream. A reduction or elimination of Public Service Loan Forgiveness is possible, but it would require an act of Congress. Such rule changes have historically been applied prospectively to “new” borrowers only.