For several years, student loans have developed into a controversial and hotly-debated topic. Being the second leading form of debt in the United States, it goes without saying. To break out the new year of 2017, two distinct setbacks occurred in the quest for anyone who happens to be involved with student loans. One has to do with tax relief for disabled student debtors while the other pertains to the older demographic relying on social security.
The first setback refers to a congressional decision to withhold tax relief for severely disabled student loan debtors who receive student loan discharges. As it is now, taxes are exacted on discharged loans for disability reasons as passive income. This is one extra obligation for a borrower already experiencing serious hardship.
The student debt tax following death or disability issue wasn’t all bad news; for instance, New Jersey law addressed some shortcomings with a positive outlook. Chris Christie and the NJ state legislature set a precedent by signing a bill in to law that forgave student loans for severely disabled borrowers. This was good news in general, but the decisions made in New Jersey only set a precedent without defining legitimate legislation for the rest of the country. On top of this, the tax following death or disability was not addressed, so in reality, it may have not solved the underlying issue.
Legislative efforts in other states that were meant to alleviate student debt experienced a somewhat more negative fate, establishing a worse precedent compared to the news in New Jersey. Student loan refinancing, viewed by many as the predominant solution to the default rate, still lacks support in some state legislatures and the federal government.
Congresmen Garamendi’s Student Loan Refinancing and Recalculating Act would have implemented student loan consolidation in much the same way that private companies offer it. However, the bill did not gain any significant traction. Furthermore, Hillary Clinton’s stab at a federal refinancing program dematerialized after the election. At any rate, the only opportunities to combine student loans are offered through the ineffective Federal Consolidation Loan program and banks that refinance student loans.
In addition to the woes on the student loan death tax and refinancing, older individuals who were either a cosigner or primary holder on student loans experienced social security garnishments. The Federal government reportedly garnished social security payments for older borrowers who were struggling with payments.
No ground was gained on the social security issue, so struggling borrowers with social security benefits to look forward to may have to worry. At any rate, one thing is certain; student loans are undoubtedly causing problems and gaining more and more attention.
With over $1.3 trillion in debt, it is no surprise that more people are having problems with student loans. The problem has spread from new graduates to other potentially accountable individuals such as older cosigners or disabled borrowers. The Federal government is simply tightening its hold on outstanding student loan debt while doubling its efforts by coming up with new ways to cover its loans.
At the end of the day, student loan debt is not going anywhere any time soon. Each year the toll increases, but more changes may be coming in 2017. Although pure speculation, the changing Executive Office may bring about pivotal modifications to student loans. For better or for worse remains to be seen.