When talking about student loans and everything else that comes with it, one of the most common keywords that gets thrown around is student loan forgiveness. It is exactly how it sounds, but it comes with a bit of red tape like any other federal program. Despite having eligibility requirements, loan forgiveness programs have become an interesting controversy.
For a little background, those who qualify for a forgiveness program earn the benefit of more manageable monthly payments along with savings down the road. It does sound ideal, especially to a beleaguered group of student debtors. While the original intention of the loan forgiveness programs was to aid student borrowers, they may end up causing more problems than it was originally intended to solve.
Since the fruition of the student loan forgiveness programs under the Obama administration, loan forgiveness plans such as the income-driven repayment (IDR) plan have increased in popularity. Today, approximately 24% of borrowers are enrolled in IDR plans which accounts for about 40% of outstanding loans. This sounds great to the average student loan borrower, but this brought up an issue that involves all taxpayers.
Since the growth of IDR participation outpaced the Department of Education’s projections, the estimated balance of forgiven loans was also underestimated. The projected balance of loans to be forgiven now exceeds $70 billion according to the Government Accountability Office. That loan balance falls directly on taxpayers in the United States.
There is a lot to be said about the implementation of the loan forgiveness program among other aspects such as the consequences and motivation of the policy.
First and foremost, the Department of Education, and subsequently the Federal government, profits off of the federal loan program as a whole. The implementation of a loan forgiveness program disgruntles taxpayers because they are left with the bill. In short, the government keeps profiting overall while increasing taxation on the population.
Another issue is the miscalculation of the Department of Education (DE). The Government Accountability Office (GAO) claims that the DE’s quality control is unreliable which leads to untrustworthy budget estimate. The opposition to these policies may say that the pro-loan forgiveness side “dissembled about the cost” according to the Wall Street Journal.
The final discussion point in this piece (which probably doesn’t cover all of them) is the motivation behind the loan program. For a millennial with student loans, a loan forgiveness program is extremely enticing, and it certainly garners millennial support for the party implementing the policy. This leads many to the accusation that this policy was simply implemented to gain votes all at the cost of the common taxpayer. The irony behind this situation is that millennial taxpayers, the recipients of the forgiveness benefits, are directly affected by the impending increase in taxation.
Overall, it is a controversial topic that many are riled up about. Given recent events such as the election and changes to all branches of the U.S. Government, there is much to be heard about policies from the previous administration. At any rate, the average taxpayer can simply wait to see what will happen to their tax situation.