A round of student loan forgiveness that covers $39 billion for 804,000 students began July 14, adding to the Biden-Harris administration discharging over $116.6 billion for 3.4 million students, according to a July 14 press release by the U.S. Department of Education.
The Department’s data show a total of 61,890 borrowers eligible for $2,958.80 million of discharge in California. California’s eligible borrower count ranks second after Texas, and its discharge amount ranks third among all states.
An income-driven repayment, or IDR, plan sets affordable monthly student loan payments based on the borrower’s income and family size, according to a U.S. Department of Education spokesperson.
“Under the Higher Education Act and the Department’s regulations, a borrower is eligible for forgiveness after making 240 or 300 monthly payments—the equivalent of 20 or 25 years on an IDR plan or the standard repayment plan with the number of required payments varying based upon when a borrower first took out the loans, the type of loans they borrowed, and the IDR payment plan in which the borrower is enrolled,” the press release stated.
The Biden-Harris administration is making efforts to ensure correct counting of IDR payments, which were inaccurate, the spokesperson noted.
Specifically, a “one-time count payment adjustment” is conducted, adding months the borrower was in a repayment status, a year or more consecutively spent in forbearance, 36 cumulative months spent in forbearance, months one deferred education prior to 2013 and months spent in economic hardship or military deferments after that year, according to the press release.
After the count addition, if the number of months exceeds one’s required payment period, a refund is granted in most cases, according to the Federal Student Aid website.
Upon receiving notification, qualified borrowers need not to make further actions to receive the discharge, according to a July 18 press release.
The spokesperson also explained the Saving on a Valuable Education, or SAVE, IDR plan, which is currently under development by the Department of Education.
Under SAVE, a borrower in a family of three with an annual income lower than $50,000 would no longer be required to make monthly payments, starting this summer.
Additionally, the website notes several other SAVE benefits will go into effect next summer, including a reduction from 10% to 5% of income above 225% of the poverty line for undergraduate loans.
“The SAVE plan will cut payments on undergraduate loans in half compared to other IDR plans, ensure that borrowers never see their balance grow as long as they keep up with their required payments, and protect more of a borrower’s income for basic needs,” the spokesperson said in an email.