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America’s student loan problem is more complicated than ever before

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America’s student loan debt is approaching $1.5 trillion.

Existing income-driven plans aim to help the borrower but do not address the real problems.
{mosads}President-elect Donald Trump’s student loan forgiveness plan resembles that of President Obama’s. Trump has said that he would propose a 12.5 percent of income cap on monthly student loan payments and forgive loans after 15 years. The Obama administration caps monthly payments at 10 percent and forgives loans after 20 years. Details behind Trump’s plan remain uncertain. With the appointment of Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary, students and Congress alike are waiting to see how she will enter the conversation.

Around 70 percent of students leave college with debt and some estimate that less than 40 percent of borrowers will actually pay off their debt. The Government Accountability Office is predicting that upwards of $108 billion in student loans will be forgiven by the federal government. That number continues to grow alongside the total debt amassing into the trillions.

The situation does not work for the borrower, the federal government, the economy, or for future students and the universities they attend. It’s no surprise that there has also been a recent increase in private loan enrollments. Although these loans are dwarfed by public ones, borrowers are looking for alternatives.

Recent graduates lack an incentive to fuel economic growth. Shackled under student loan debt, the average borrower in an income-driven repayment plan owes $67,000. Creative alternatives exist, but they are not enough. Congress and President Obama are yet to come to terms on a capped amount of debt for an individual borrower. It’s time to decide what Congress can do with a Trump administration. We must act soon.

There are certain actions that Congress and the next administration can take immediately: simplify the number and complexity of loan enrollment and re-enrollment options, agree to clear long-term forgiveness cap totals, and involve all actors in the conversation including universities, students, and the Department of Education.

Inaction on America’s student loan problem will lead to larger and unwanted economic consequences.

Floyd is the author of PANIC: One Man’s Struggle with Anxiety and a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Master of Public Administration program. He is a project coordinator in the DC Metro area.

The views expressed by authors are their own and not the views of The Hill.

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