Changes to the fine print of President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan could mean fewer Idaho borrowers qualify for the relief the administration announced in August.
The change affects more than 4 million student borrowers nationwide, with Federal Family Education Loans issued and administered by private banks but ultimately backed by the federal government.
Following a recent move by the US Department of Education to change its guidance, NPR reports that nearly 800,000 such borrowers will now be foreclosed from the student loan relief program. The Statesman reached out to the Department of Education for clarification on the NPR numbers, but had not received a response by the time of publication.
Randy Croyle, director of student financial aid services at the University of Idaho, told the Idaho Statesman that he thinks many Idahoans could avoid loan forgiveness, but that’s not a certainty.
Here’s what to know about the changes, including how to check if your loans are now exempt from student loan forgiveness.
What types of student loans are eligible for forgiveness?
Until recently, the U.S. Department of Education advised borrowers with FFELP business loans that they could consolidate their loans into direct federal loans — funds from the government, not private banks.
Doing so would allow these borrowers to receive relief under the Biden plan because the government would hold the loans. However, the department changed the language on September 29. editing the text on the website of the Department of Education instead say: “borrowers with federal student loans that are not maintained by ED cannot obtain lump sum debt relief by consolidating those loans into Direct Loans.”
It is not entirely clear why the Biden administration made this decision, but according to some legal experts, the move Avoidance of claims by banks who could claim that the loan forgiveness plan harmed them.
Are Idaho Student Loan Borrowers Affected?
The FFEL program was retired in 2010 and there have been no new loans since then. Also, according to Croyle, the University of Idaho, which has a 43% graduation rate from Idahomoved to the Direct Loan Program through the federal government in the 1990s.
“Most borrowers who took out loans in the ’90s probably paid off their loans and it wouldn’t be too much of a problem for the student,” Croyle said. “That being said, if they’re consolidating their loans, most of the consolidation programs are through the Department of Education and under the DL program, so I don’t see it having much of an impact here.”
Those borrowers who consolidated their loans into Federal Direct Loans before the changes took effect on September 29 are eligible for forgiveness based on their income and other requirements established by the Biden administration’s plan.
Croyle added that he doesn’t know what other types of loans other Idaho schools use, but direct loans are being used more often these days. Boise State University, the state’s largest institution of higher learning, offers federal student loans directly from the US Department of Education.
For those affected by the Biden administration’s changes and no longer eligible for student loan forgiveness, Croyle offered other alternatives.
In Public service loan forgiveness program The remaining balance of your loans will be forgiven after you make 120 qualifying monthly payments and work full-time for a qualifying employer. There are also the teacher and military loan forgiveness programs for those who qualify.
How can you tell if your student loans are private?
Borrowers can apply online studentaid.gov and log in to check the status of your loans. If your loan does not appear on the federal website, it means that the loans are private.
You can also through National Student Loan Information System.