Obama tackles student debt

With President Obama’s plan, the remaining amount of an undergraduate’s debt will be removed after 20 years.

Students with student loans through the federal government can enter the Revised Pay as You Earn plan, which caps the monthly payment.

President Obama has been promoting a revised version of PAYE this past year. The repayment plan can apply to any student with federal direct loans, regardless of the date of their debt and their debt-to-income ratio.

At MU, about 23,000 undergraduates and 3,000 graduates bear direct loans, which in total amounts to $189 million, according to Student Financial Aid office records.

Once students get enrolled in this program, their monthly payment will be capped at 10 percent of their monthly income. The remaining balance of an undergraduate’s debt will be removed after 20 years, and a graduate’s debt will disappear after 25 years.

“It is good to cap it at 10 percent because then it’s still livable,” MU sophomore Sabrea Ewing said. “A 10-percent cap can really allow people to save their money and spend it more on living, instead of just paying back debt.”

MU sophomore Niamh Cremin is paying for her tuition almost entirely through student loans.

“Personally I want to pay as much as I can right away,” Cremin said. “I think the 10 percent just drags out your loans for a long period of time.”

Cremin said she feels stressed when thinking about her debt. She therefore wants to eliminate this financial burden as soon as possible, even it takes 50 percent of her monthly income.

REPAYE removes one’s debt after 10 years if they work at a public service organization. Taxpayer Brandi Clements works in MU in the College of Education, a public service organization. After 10 years, the remaining balance of her student loans of $65,000 to $75,000 will disappear. She said she is happy to commit to the job for that time.

“This program actually encourages people to work in the public service sector, which in turn helps something that is basically giving more service to taxpayers,” Clements said. “I’d like to pay less in taxes. But at least if I am going to pay them, it will be nice to get something back from them.”

Financial Aid Office director Nicholas Prewett said students should carefully balance their needs and debts and make well-informed decisions on their college choice.

“The choice to use student loan money to buy a premium cup of coffee, may delay the purchase of a car or a home later in life, so students should borrow wisely to pay for higher education,” Prewett said.

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