July 13, 2024
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July 13, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

How many times have you been at a shab­bat lunch and the host offered you a second helping of that delicious steak dish, or you attend­ed an important meeting and were offered wa­ter or a pad to write on, and each time your im­mediate response was “No thanks, I’m good.”

And then it happens. You begin to rethink that hasty decline. You really enjoyed that steak and would like a little more before dessert comes. Your throat is dry and you could real­ly use a little water before the meeting begins, and unfortunately, you now realize you don’t have any paper on which to take notes.

But it’s too late, you said “No thanks, I’m good.”

Student Debt is now a looming crisis fac­ing our nation as millions of young people are saddled with mountains of debt. Many young people will never be able to purchase a home because of their monthly student loan obli­gations. They will not be able to qualify for a mortgage, and even their parents, who co­signed their loans, may not qualify for a refi­nance since they are now obligated on these debts as well.

Fortunately, the government is now mak­ing student borrowers a generous offer. If you qualify, you can reduce your monthly pay­ments and eliminate any remaining debt after as little as ten years. Here’s how it works.

Essentially, the Income Based Repayment Program (IBR) establishes a payment sched­ule based on your income and household size without regard to debt amount. A single household earning $40,000 will pay $281. The household of three earning the same $40,000 would pay just $129.The same households earning $60,000 would have to make pay­ments of $531 and $379.

Compare this to the standard 10-year pay­ments due on $50,000 and $100,000 loan bal­ances of, respectively, $533 and $1066, and you can see the potential for reduced month­ly payments.

If the same person graduated recently and qualifies for the Pay as You Earn (PAYE)) pro­gram, the payment would be one-third less than the IBR amount. The three-person house­hold with a $40,000 income would only be paying $86 per month. The recent coverage in the press about student loans refers to Presi­dent Obama’s plan to extend this program to graduates as far back as 2007, thereby open­ing the program to millions more debtors. If you graduated after 2007, this may be a ben­efit for you.

The second aspect of the IBR program is that it enables you to discharge any remaining debt after a certain number of payments. The standard number of years is 25, while if you qualify for PAYE, you can discharge debts after 20 years of payments. While this is a long time, at least it gives you a time horizon, and if your income never catches up with your expecta­tions you will pay the monthly amount know­ing that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Now here’s the really exciting part. If you have chosen a profession that meets the re­quirements of the Public Service Loan Forgive­ness (PSLF) program, you can discharge your debt after just 120 payments or 10 years. Pub­lic service includes such positions as nurses, teachers, municipal workers, non-profit em­ployees, and more. If you fit into this category and you have debt over $30,000 you are miss­ing a tremendous opportunity if you don’t ex­plore this program.

I have helped people reduce monthly pay­ments from $1000 to $253 and from $525 to zero. Unfortunately, I have spoken with more people who expressed interest but never pur­sued the program and who are now paying hundreds each month they may not need to be paying. The process will require work, and persistence. However, we spend so much en­ergy working to earn a living, isn’t an hour of work worth hundreds of dollars in savings per month? As they say, a penny saved…

The first step is to go to www.studentaid. gov and find the repayment estimator and compare how much you pay now with what you would pay under these programs. Even if you are presently deferring, you may be bet­ter off starting to pay under IBR or PAYE. May­be your current payment will be zero but it will count towards the 120 required payments to discharge the balance due.

If you need help, call your loan servicer. Also, if you wish, ask me for a free booklet ex­plaining the various programs in more detail.

The government is offering you a second helping of chulent. Before you turn it down see if it works for you and resist the urge to say No thanks, I’m good. Perhaps you could actually be better.

David Siegel is a Home Lending Specialist with Citibank in its Englewood office. Siegel can be reached at da­[email protected] or 201-419-1330. David has pre­pared a guide for First Time Homebuyers. Contact him for more information on student debt programs and homebuying tips.

By David Siegel

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