Republicans may not be very happy with the terms of the student loan repayment program proposed by President-elect Donald Trump, but students may be a lot happier with it than with any existing program.
The Washington Post reported that at a Columbus, Ohio rally in October, Trump said that the terms of his program would allow borrowers “to get on with their lives.”
Payments would be tied to income and capped at 12.5 percent—higher than the current Revised Pay as You Earn (REPAYE), which caps payments at 10 percent of borrowers’ incomes—but it forgives remaining debt after 15 years. REPAYE’s debt forgiveness doesn’t begin until after 20 years of payment.
“We would cap repayment for an affordable portion of the borrower’s income, 12.5 percent, we’d cap it. That gives you a lot to play with and a lot to do,” Trump was quoted saying.
He added, “And if borrowers work hard and make their full payments for 15 years, we’ll let them get on with their lives. They just go ahead and they get on with their lives.”
Of course, Trump’s plan was unveiled pre-election, and it remains to be seen whether it survives incursions by fiscal conservatives in his party—who have already attacked President Obama for his own enlargement of income-driven repayment programs.
And while Trump wasn’t providing any numbers to indicate how much his program would cost the government—his campaign said that it would be paid for by a combination of lower federal spending and savings from fewer student loan defaults—they don’t seem very happy with it.
The report quoted Jason Delisle,a resident fellow at the conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute, saying, “They are way off on their numbers. If you were going to give loan forgiveness in 15 years, you’re going to forgive a lot more debt than you’re going to make up for in the form of the higher payments they’re proposing, by a lot. I don’t even need to run the numbers. It’s so obvious.”
Student loan debt has ballooned to $1.3 trillion, affecting not only people’s ability to save for retirement but also their ability to stay afloat—particularly in instances of job loss or health woes.
And while income-driven plans themselves have been around for 20 years, conservatives have called the plans a giveaway to doctors and lawyers while liberals worry that lower-income graduates with lower levels of debt than high-income professionals don’t derive equal benefit from the programs.
In addition, the right depicts income-driven plans as putting a burden on taxpayers.
Trump also spoke about some other higher-education proposals that had already been mentioned, such as requiring colleges to spend their endowments to keep tuition low and cut student debt or risk losing federal tax breaks.
He was quoted saying, “Some schools are paying more to hedge funds and private-equity managers than they are spending on tuition, while taxpayers are guaranteeing hundreds of billions of dollars of student loans to pay for rising tuition. We want universities to spend their endowments on their students, not themselves.”