American borrowers aren’t the only ones having difficulty paying off their student loan debt. The average student in Canada accrues around $25,000 in student debt, and many are having a hard time making their monthly payments.
Once again, the Canadian federal government is writing off unpaid loan debt that it believes it will never be able to collect. This year, the write off is for more than $178 million, representing more than 32,000 loans that have gone unpaid for a variety of reasons including borrower bankruptcy, the loan passed the legal limit on collection, or the debtor couldn’t be located. Last year, the government wrote off almost 34,000 loans totaling $176 million.
The Canadian government has made a concerted effort to help with the problem. Last year, it introduced the Repayment Assistance Plan where, depending on their income level and the size of their family, Canadian student loan borrowers could apply for reduced monthly payments or no monthly payments at all.
But the government has also amped up efforts to collect outstanding student loans, especially after write-offs escalated to almost $300 million in 2015. The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) collects loan in default and can even withhold income tax refunds to cover outstanding debt. It can also send cases to the attorney general for legal action such as garnishing wages or seizing assets. Last year, the CRA was able to collect a little over $200 million in unpaid loans—an improvement from previous years.
The Liberals’ first budget also allowed the CRA to use tax information to collect debts from the student loan program overseen by Employment and Social Development Canada. However, the federal election has delayed approval.
Image Copyright Jeff Wallace