Will you qualify for student loan forgiveness under Biden's plan?

President Joe Biden outlined several promises during his presidential campaign to rescue student loan debt. But not all borrowers qualify. Find out if you are eligible for student loan forgiveness under Biden’s plan. (iStock)

During his presidential campaign, President Joe Biden outlined several promises in his plan to reduce student debt, including:

  • Immediate $10,000 forgiveness on federal loans
  • The chance to attend public college tuition-free if your family income is less than $125,000
  • Reduce the requirements for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)

So, if Biden’s presidency plan moves forward, it may be time to ask if you will qualify for student loan forgiveness?

Who qualifies for student loan forgiveness?

In 2020, about one in four adults (nearly 45 million Americans) owed student loans. Added together, they equaled more than $1.5 trillion, according to Brookings Research. Biden’s “education beyond high school agenda” calls for making public colleges and universities tuition-free for all students with family incomes below $125,000.

A Biden presidency may also call for the cancelation of up to $10,000 in federal student loans for eligible borrowers. The catch? Student loan cancellation doesn't apply to private student loans.

If you have private student loans, refinancing your loans might still save you money. Use an ​online student loan refinancing calculator​ to get a sense of what your new monthly payments could be. You can also use Credible to compare rates and lenders within just minutes.

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How much student loan debt will be forgiven?

Right now, a Biden Presidency would mandate the cancelation of up to $10,000 in federal student loans. If you make $25,000 or less per year, you won’t owe any payments on your undergraduate federal student loans and you won’t accrue any interest on your loans under the Biden plan.

If you make $25,000 or more per year, you pay 5% of your discretionary income toward your federal loans. After 20 years, if you made all your payments through the program, the remainder of the federal loans will be 100% forgiven.

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What should you do if you have private student loans?

Students with private student loans don’t catch the same break as students with federal loans under the Biden plan. But, thanks to the CARES Act and interest rates at all-time lows, refinancing your student loans now could save you a bundle.

If you have a private student loan you're considering refinancing, you can always use multi-lender marketplace Credible. With a private student loan refinance, you simply have to fill out one form to compare rates and access options from several lenders.

But refinancing doesn’t benefit everyone, so weigh the pros and cons before deciding.

Pros:

  1. You may get a lower interest rate by refinancing your student loans. If you have good credit or a co-signer on your loans, lenders will reward you with a lower interest rate, which means you’ll pay a lot less interest over time. 
  2. One monthly payment makes budgeting much easier. Refinancing gives you the option to combine several loans into one new loan. Instead of keeping track of multiple bills, you only have to remember one payment each month.
  3. Adjusting the term on your loan may lower your payment. Refinancing also allows you to change your repayment terms. If you choose a shorter term, your monthly payment might go up, but you’ll pay off your loan faster. A longer-term will likely lower your monthly payment, but you’ll pay more in interest.  
  4. Switching lenders may give you better rates and terms. When you refinance your student loans, you also have the option to switch lenders. A new bank, credit union or online lender may offer better rates and terms than your current loan. 

Not sure how much you’ll save by refinancing? Use an online tool like ​Credible to view a rates table that compares rates from multiple lenders at once.​

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Cons:

  1. You might lose access to federal programs. Since you refinance your loans with a private lender, like a bank, or credit union, once you refinance your federal student loans, you lose access to federal programs. Programs might include income-driven repayment plans, student loan forbearance, and the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. 
  2. Most government loans come with flexible repayment terms. Most private loans do not. Once you choose your terms, you’re locked in unless you refinance again.
  3. It can be much more difficult to qualify for private loans vs. federal loans. To apply for a private loan, lenders look at your credit score and history, as well as stable income and employment. Although you may get a better rate with a private loan, only borrowers with a good credit score — usually 650 or better — will get the best rates.  

There might not be a better time to refinance than right now. Interest is temporarily at 0% on federal student loans to provide relief to student loan borrowers during COVID-19. Borrowers are also automatically in administrative forbearance, which means all monthly loan payments are temporarily suspended. This relief was supposed to end Dec. 31, 2020, but has been extended through the end of January 2021.

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