On August 24, 2022, President Biden announced a student loan forgiveness plan that will forgive up to $10,000 for borrowers who earn less than $125,000 ($250,000 for married couples filing together). For Pell Grant recipients, that amount will increase to $20,000. The historic move will eliminate student debt entirely for 15 million of the 43 million people with federal loans and is expected to decrease monthly payments by an average of $250 for borrowers with a remaining balance on a 10-year payment plan.
What’s in the Plan?
The three-part plan is touted as providing a lifeline to middle-class borrowers who have struggled with high monthly payments and accruing balances. These economic struggles have made it harder for them to buy homes and save for retirement, especially as they continue to recover from strains associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. In his announcement, the President states that the Department of Education will:
- Provide targeted debt relief to address the financial harms of the pandemic by providing up to $20,000 in debt cancellation to Pell Grant recipients with loans held by the Department of Education and up to $10,000 in debt cancellation to non-Pell Grant recipients. For a borrower to be eligible, their individual income must be less than $125,000 ($250,000 for married couples).
- Make the current student loan system more manageable for current and future borrowers by:
- Cutting monthly payments in half for undergraduate loans by proposing a new income-driven repayment plan that protects more low-income borrowers from making any payments. Additionally, it will cap monthly payments for undergraduate loans at 5% of a borrower’s discretionary income—half of the rate most borrowers currently pay under existing plans. This will reduce the average annual student loan payment by more than $1,000 for both current and future borrowers.
- Fixing the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program by proposing a rule that borrowers who have worked at a nonprofit, in the military, or in federal, state, tribal, or local government receive appropriate credit toward loan forgiveness.
- Reduce the cost of college overall by holding schools accountable for price increases and increasing the amount of Pell Grants students are eligible for.
How will this affect me?
Many across the country are now questioning how these changes will affect them. Students with a federal loan issued before June 30, 2022, can apply to have their outstanding balance reduced, including loans to parents and graduate loans. If your loan is less than $10,000, the loan will be fully retired.
Borrowers who borrowed through means other than federal loans or their college will still be responsible for the total amount of their loans. However, a solution is being explored for these individuals whose holders of non-direct loans are held by private entities.
What About Taxes?
A question at the top of many people’s minds is what does this new normal mean for the everyday taxpayer and individuals set to receive this loan forgiveness when it comes to taxes, as the IRS typically sees federal student loan forgiveness as taxable earnings. According to the Biden Administration, borrowers who benefit from student loan forgiveness will not need to worry about being hit by a federal tax bill later. The American Rescue Plan of 2021 made student loan forgiveness tax-free through 2025.
However, there is a possibility that state taxes may be owed, depending on the state where you live, as some states automatically conform to federal rules, while others may view the forgiven balance as income. In such a case, it is expected that the amount due will be equivalent to a few student loan payments.
Contact CRI to Answer All Your Questions
If you’re unsure or have questions about how this change in student loans will affect you come tax season, contact your CRI advisor. Our team of qualified professionals is ready to assist you with guidance on this and all of your tax needs.
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