At a time when the rate of delinquent student loans nearly matches that of delinquent mortgages in 2010, student loan debt relief has come to a screeching halt.
It was recently revealed that no borrower defense applications have been processed since President Trump took office. When approved, these applications allow borrowers to get student loans forgiven in cases of fraud.
Here’s what you need to know about this latest news, as well as what to do if you’re one of the tens of thousands of borrowers seeking forgiveness.
Student loan debt relief delayed under Trump
On June 14, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced she was pausing Obama-era regulations meant to protect students who’d been defrauded by their universities.
The regulations in question included:
- Gainful employment, which punishes universities whose students can’t find decent jobs after graduation; and
- Borrower defense, which provides an easy way for students defrauded by their schools to seek loan forgiveness
Although her decision was met with uproar — including a lawsuit from 19 state attorneys general — she promised current applications wouldn’t be affected.
“Nearly 16,000 borrower defense claims are currently being processed by the Department, and, as I have said all along, promises made to students under the current rule will be promises kept,” DeVos said in a statement.
“We are working with servicers to get these loans discharged as expeditiously as possible. Some borrowers should expect to obtain discharges within the next several weeks,” she added.
Recently released documents, however, tell another story. Not only have zero applications been approved over the past few weeks, none have been approved since Trump took office more than six months ago.
Sen. Rick Durbin, D-Ill., who received the records from the Department of Education, revealed the news to the general public on July 26.
“This response shows that while the Department of Education has illegally delayed the new borrower defense rule, it has also stopped processing federal student loan relief under current regulations for tens of thousands of defrauded borrowers,” said Durbin in a statement emailed to Student Loan Hero.
“The Department can’t ignore these borrowers any longer.”
Right now, more than 65,000 claims for student loan debt relief are pending. The majority of the claims come from borrowers who attended Corinthian and ITT Technical Institute, two schools forced to close amid increasing regulations and allegations.
What to do if your borrower defense application is on hold
Are you one of the 65,000 borrowers waiting for your loans to be forgiven?
One thing to be aware of: “Borrowers who are awaiting a decision from the department have continued to accrue loan interest, which the department revealed amounts to $143 million,” reported The Associated Press.
Most borrowers are given a grace period from loan payments while they wait for their applications to be processed. But according to the Post, that grace period will expire for 31,000 borrowers over the next six months.
So it’s vital you stay on top of your application and grace period. If it expires while you’re still waiting, you must ask to have your forbearance extended.
And if you haven’t yet made your claim for borrower defense, here are a few things you should know:
- You might be eligible for forgiveness if your school misled you or violated certain state laws directly related to your education.
- While your application is being reviewed, you can request that your student loans be placed into forbearance.
- But note that, if your application is denied or only partially approved, you’ll be on the hook for any interest accrued while your loans were in forbearance.
In other words, make sure your loans qualify for student loan debt relief before applying. Click here to read through the Federal Student Aid’s guidelines on borrower defense to repayment.
What to do if you’re struggling to pay your loans
If you’re struggling to pay your student loans but weren’t the victim of fraud, consider the following options:
- Apply for an income-driven repayment plan: These plans set your payments based on your income, which can make your student loan bills much more manageable.
- Refinance your student loans: If you have a good income and credit score, refinancing your student loans could lower your payments significantly.
Under the current administration, it’s anyone’s guess what will happen to programs that help student loan borrowers. But the best way to protect yourself is to stay educated — and stay vigilant.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2018!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
|Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.87% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.47% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.87% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of Month/Day/Year, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 08/21/18. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at email@example.com, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on ourstudent loan refinance product.
© 2018 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
Savings example: average savings calculated based on single loans refinanced from 9/2013 to 12/2017 where borrowers’ previous rates were disclosed. Assumes same loan terms for previous and refinanced loans, and payments made to maturity with no prepayments. Actual savings for individual loans vary based on loan balance, interest rates, and other factors.
Application detail: 5 minutes indicates typical time it takes to complete application with applicant information readily available. It does not include time taken to provide underwriting decision or funding of the loan.
Instant rates mean a delivery of personalized rates for those individuals who provide sufficient information to return a rate. For instant rates a soft credit pull will be conducted, which will not affect your credit score. To proceed with an application, a hard credit pull will be required, which may affect your credit score.
Total savings calculated by aggregating individual average savings across total borrower population from 9/2013 to 12/2017. Individual average savings calculation based on single loans refinanced from 9/2013 to 12/2017 where borrowers’ previous rates were provided. Assumes same loan terms for previous and refinanced loans, and payments made to maturity with no prepayments. Actual savings for individual loans vary based on loan balance, interest rates, and other factors.
3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|2.47% – 6.99%3||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit SoFi|
|2.47% – 5.87%1||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Earnest|
|2.47% – 8.03%4||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Lendkey|
|2.95% – 6.37%2||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Laurel Road|
|2.48% – 6.25%5||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit CommonBond|
|2.72% – 8.32%6||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Citizens|