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News on student loan debt relief

A friend of mine has gigantic student loan debts, and I want to help so I did a little research and found a newish law which implements Income-Based Repayments so there's a limit to how painful they will make your monthly payments:

Income-Based Repayment (IBR) caps monthly federal loan payments at an affordable level based on your income and family size. If you owe more on your federal student loans than you earn in a year, you can probably benefit from IBR. The lower your income, the lower your monthly payment will be: in some cases, as low as $0. IBR is available for almost all federal loans http://studentaid.ed.gov/vo/students/.

Essentially, they can set it up so you don't have to pay more than 15% of your income if you are working, maybe nothing but accruing interest if you are unemployed or broke. If you repay under the IBR plan for 25 years and meet certain other requirements, any remaining balance will be cancelled (from StudentAid.ed.gov).

More information: IBRInfo.org - tons of info, including an animated video (!) and a repayment calculator, and a May 2010 New York Times series Answers About Student Loans.

Better things to come from the new new education law attached to HCR in March; no surprise, it passed with no support from Republicans. No more publicly-supported private loans any more, and as of 2014 new loans will set future repayment amounts limited to 10% of income, forgiveness after 20 years. USA Today and NY Times

For people with lots of different loans and private loans, start by looking at government debt consolidation options. Right now, if you have private loans and a nasty bank, you are screwed: you can't even discharge them through bankruptcy, and the interest just keeps piling on. However, there are bills in Congress to limit unfair practices and fraud, and limit repayment burden, including bankruptcy protection. These are being pushed by Obama and the Democrats, of course. For more, see the Project on Student Debt

(my links go to legit sites -- there are ugly scams out there: good advice from the feds)

ETA: National Student Loan Data System - see how much you owe, and to whom. I'm glad that's available, it's clearly worth filling out the forms.