Thanks, Betsy.
May 18, 2017 9:23 AM   Subscribe

Trump's budget could eliminate Public Service Loan Forgiveness....the proposed budget would reportedly cut funding in half for the federal work-study program, and would sharply reduce grants focused on career and technical education. The most drastic change, however, may be the budget’s proposed elimination of the public-service loan forgiveness program, which was initially designed to benefit people who work in the public interest.
posted by onecircleaday (63 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
 
Don't you love it when billionaire heiresses are put in charge of deciding what's financially feasible for the rest of us?
posted by indubitable at 9:38 AM on May 18 [31 favorites]


They're also going to strongly push for moving funding from public schools to voucher programs, effectively subsidizing school flight by the middle and upper classes. Voucher advocates here in Utah are wetting themselves with joy at the opportunity to push something through that was strongly voted down the last time it came around.
posted by msbutah at 9:41 AM on May 18


These people are so fucking evil.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 9:44 AM on May 18 [25 favorites]


Let's make America as shitty as possible again.
posted by nikoniko at 9:46 AM on May 18 [9 favorites]


I know SO MANY people who have been waiting for fall 2017 so that they can climb out from under the rubble of their student loans after a decade or more in underpaid public service work. People who have made enormous career decisions based on the promise of loan forgiveness. This is evil.
posted by libraritarian at 9:47 AM on May 18 [86 favorites]


If this happens, it will ruin my life. The only options I see right now are default or suicide. All because I made some ignorant decisions when I was young and didn't know how money worked (and had no one to teach me). Never mind that I've since gotten smarter and have faithfully made half the payments so far - it's going to be all for nothing.
posted by Brain Sturgeon at 9:50 AM on May 18 [16 favorites]


All because I made some ignorant decisions when I was young and didn't know how money worked (and no one to teach me).

I wouldn't judge "taking the government at its word that it would hold up its end of the bargain" to be ignorant or foolish. They're straight up pulling the rug out from under you.
posted by indubitable at 9:53 AM on May 18 [31 favorites]


Oh sorry - I meant I shouldn't have taken out the amount of student loans I did in the first place.
posted by Brain Sturgeon at 9:55 AM on May 18 [2 favorites]


I know SO MANY people who have been waiting for fall 2017 so that they can climb out from under the rubble of their student loans after a decade or more in underpaid public service work. People who have made enormous career decisions based on the promise of loan forgiveness. This is evil.

Yep, that's me. In my case, working in government saved me financially. I've never missed a payment. And this is the thanks I get, working in public service and faithfully paying my loans. I don't expect a handout. But the problem isn't the debt per se - it's that HIGHER EDUCATION COSTS US OUR LIVES. Literally. I'm crying at work, for fuck's sake. I'm so overwhelmed.

If this happens, it will ruin my life. The only options I see right now are default or suicide. All because I made some ignorant decisions when I was young and didn't know how money worked (and had no one to teach me). Never mind that I've since gotten smarter and have faithfully made half the payments so far - it's going to be all for nothing.

I'm in the same boat as you. I took out MASSIVE loans in ignorance, not knowing at all how money worked. All I knew was that I was poor and wanted a better life. That's it.
posted by onecircleaday at 9:59 AM on May 18 [24 favorites]


A large number of people in that program—and many with the largest amount of debt—are attorneys. There would be an enormous number of lawsuits filed if this was done even close to retroactively. The ABA has already filed a lawsuit against the Department of Education for trying to limit the definition of who is eligible under the program.

That said, I suspect that—like most things in Trump's fantasy budget—it won't be in the actual budget bill.
posted by jedicus at 10:12 AM on May 18 [28 favorites]


Grr.. this affects my wife too who's been steadily working away to chop out her pil debt..We're not poor or anything like it, but we're not on the income scale that registers differently to DeVos and cronies. So much grubby pettiness.
posted by drewbage1847 at 10:20 AM on May 18 [1 favorite]


This is going to destroy the lives of my friends and my generation if it goes through.

The Debt Collective is organizing on this. (They're the people who ran the Rolling Jubilee and the Corinthian College strike.)
posted by peppercorn at 10:20 AM on May 18 [20 favorites]


Thank you for that link, Peppercorn. I just signed up.
posted by onecircleaday at 10:25 AM on May 18 [2 favorites]


Just for anyone who is feeling particularly overwhelmed by this--PSLF isn't its own repayment program, but a feature of the existing income-driven repayment plans. So you should remain on the same income-driven payment plan even if the program is cancelled. Your monthly payments shouldn't change. The exit from the plan obviously would: you'd go from nontaxable forgiveness in 10 years to potentially partially-taxable forgiveness in 25. I'm not going to pretend that this would be an improvement in outcome, but your immediate, day-to-day life shouldn't be affected. Please do not default (or the other option mentioned--please!!!). It will not improve your situation in any way.
posted by praemunire at 10:38 AM on May 18 [18 favorites]


you should remain on the same income-driven payment plan even if the program is cancelled.

I, on the other hand, have yet to graduate from college, and would not be so lucky. Currently $80k in debt thanks to more than $50k in federal loans, along with a predatory student loan I got when I was 22 and desperate not to be expelled for nonpayment. It always had a variable interest rate, but lately it's been "varying" upwards by a quarter of a percent every six months. Currently at just over 12%!

So the good news is that a third of my debt wouldn't have been eligible for forgiveness anyway, so don't worry, some of us are as fucked as we always were.

Land of opportunity! I'd love to see a Norman Rockwell painting of someone finding out what their monthly payments will be when they graduate.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 10:59 AM on May 18 [11 favorites]


I, on the other hand, have yet to graduate from college, and would not be so lucky.

This is incorrect--the budget does not change the income-driven repayment plans themselves (as far as I have seen! there is so much vile nonsense to monitor!). The elimination of the PSLF option would not, therefore, affect the size of the monthly payment you would have to make on your federal loans, whether or not you have already begun repayment.

It always had a variable interest rate, but lately it's been "varying" upwards by a quarter of a percent every six months. Currently at just over 12%!

Ordinarily I treat them with wariness, but, if you are employed after graduation, at that rate you might want to consider looking at refinancing your private loans only with SoFi.
posted by praemunire at 11:13 AM on May 18 [3 favorites]


I heard some rumblings a few weeks ago that people who were due loan forgiveness this year were got getting any responses from the DOE. Presumably, this is why.
posted by tobascodagama at 11:40 AM on May 18 [1 favorite]


PSLF does not just provide a financial boost/incentive to the people who choose jobs in the public interest. It does not just help ameliorate the lower salaries, no retirement plans, and--even with the ACA--mediocre health benefits. PSLF also says to the teachers, public defenders, social workers and other public interest professionals working in chronically underfunded and overburdened--but essential services that we, as a society, value their work. That they fill a role in our communities that we want to see filled. Sure, your cupcakes on Teacher's Day are great, but you know what actually acknowledges the hardships of being a public interest professional? Helping her prepare to retire by forgiving her educational debt after she's been in public service for most of her career.

The GOP will simply not fucking rest until anything and everything that might help a human being, affirm the value of a human being, or even vaguely acknowledge the value of a human being is wiped from all consideration in governance and public policy. Burn them to the ground.

Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions: Chair: Lamar Alexander (R-TN); Senate Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WASHINGTON)

House committee on Education & Workforce Chair: Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC); Ranking Member Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA)
posted by crush at 11:51 AM on May 18 [38 favorites]


jedicus: i tell myself that same thing about my fellow attorneys every morning. But it's hard to believe that hope is still in the box.
posted by crush at 11:53 AM on May 18 [2 favorites]


Charlie Pierce: Is There a Point to All This Cruelty?
Betsy DeVos does not know anything about public education except that she doesn't believe in it as a concept. Free public education is one of the unquestioned triumphs of the American experiment, but it's a disposable commodity to a know-nothing fanatic who married into a vast fortune and dedicated a lot of it to wrecking public education. One of the worst things about electing an unqualified dolt to be president is that the dolt's administration is a paradise for free-range maniacs and their personal crusades. This is a case in point.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:05 PM on May 18 [36 favorites]


They propose to cut education funding by over $10 billion. Not to catastrophize, but with massive cuts like that, what incentive do they have to keep IDR payment plans? That money has to come from somewhere, and $10 billion isn't going to magically appear from less government spending. I'm on the IBR plan, and I don't expect it will be around for much longer.

In January and on the campaign trail, he proposed consolidating all IDR plans to one plan, increasing the income-based rate from 10% to 12.5%, then borrowers receive loan forgiveness after 15 years of payments.

Hope for the best, plan for the worst.
posted by onecircleaday at 12:24 PM on May 18


I'm on the IBR plan, and I don't expect it will be around for much longer.

Bluntly, income-driven repayment plans affect, or are perceived to affect, a lot of white middle-class people, which is the real Trump demographic.
posted by praemunire at 12:32 PM on May 18 [3 favorites]


Bluntly, income-driven repayment plans affect, or are perceived to affect, a lot of white middle-class people, which is the real Trump demographic.
Middle-class people who didn't go to college, though, although I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of them have kids who will be affected.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 12:48 PM on May 18


Middle-class people who didn't go to college [are the real Trump demographic]

Cite, please? Most white college graduate voters went for Trump.
posted by enn at 12:55 PM on May 18 [9 favorites]


White voters aren't actually more important than other voters! According to this, Trump narrowly won white people with a college degree (49% to 45%, as opposed to 67% for Trump among whites without a college degree), but he lost all college grads (49% Clinton, 45% Trump) and overwhelmingly lost people with postgraduate degrees (58% Clinton, 37% Trump).
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 1:11 PM on May 18 [5 favorites]


White voters aren't actually more important than other voters!

Not to human beings. To members of the Trump administration...
posted by praemunire at 1:50 PM on May 18 [2 favorites]


I've been chipping away at student loans while making roughly half my earning potential at nonprofits in a famously expensive area for just about 9 years.

So... that's cool.

Since I'm griping; this also happens to be perfectly timed to yet again pull the rug out from under those of us whose college graduation coincided with the 2008 crash and found ourselves building careers out of fallbacks and compromises.

The talent drain out of civic and community institutions, particularly cities with a high concentration nonprofits and high cost of living, is going to start having an impact on everybody's quality of life. I know this is naive but there was a time when I honestly, really and truly, took Republicans at their word when they said they believed in private charity. But fuck those of us whose money's where our mouth is, I guess.
posted by Phobos the Space Potato at 1:53 PM on May 18 [18 favorites]


The thud you just heard was hundreds of thousands of teachers' heads hitting their desks in despair.
posted by DrAstroZoom at 1:54 PM on May 18 [5 favorites]


The thud you just heard was hundreds of thousands of teachers' heads hitting their desks in despair.

And librarians dropping our return piles.
posted by CheeseLouise at 2:04 PM on May 18 [10 favorites]


So you should remain on the same income-driven payment plan even if the program is cancelled. . Your monthly payments shouldn't change.

This is incorrect--the budget does not change the income-driven repayment plans themselves (as far as I have seen! there is so much vile nonsense to monitor!).

Unfortunately, you may be wrong here. From the Washington Post:
The administration also wants to replace five income-driven student loan repayment plans with a single plan.

If you are married, on an income driven repayment plan and both people work, you may have to count both incomes, which you do not currently have to do for IBR, PAYE or ICR if you file taxes separately. (Under REPAYE, you must count both incomes, even if both people don't have loans). Counting two incomes instead of one would double or triple your monthly income driven payments.
posted by cnc at 2:35 PM on May 18 [7 favorites]


Just to be clear, if one person has student loans and you file taxes separately, you can count only that person's income for income driven repayment on IBR, PAYE and ICR. Under REPAYE, you count both incomes, which doubles or triples the monthly payment versus being single, or using the other plans.

If everyone is forced on to one plan, and it's like REPAYE (the newest plan), working married couples where one person has loans will see their payments double or triple because both incomes will be counted.

This is completely separate (but related) to yanking the PSLF program. Basically, if you're married and they yank PSLF, don't count on income driven payment programs to fall back on. By the same token, if they yank the IDR programs, keep PSLF and force you to count both incomes, your payments may drastically increase, whether or not you were ever on PSLF at all.

They may pull either program, or both.
posted by cnc at 2:48 PM on May 18 [1 favorite]


Sighhh... I just submitted my PSLF paperwork all of nine days ago, after just under 10 years of qualifying payments.

This isn't all on the Trump admin's shoulders, though. Neither Bush or Obama made any efforts to solidify the program's execution, instead leaving it in limbo until closer to the date eligibility kicks in. As a consequence, no one's grandfathered in to the program, no matter how many times you've submitted the recommended paperwork to make sure you're on track to qualifying. In the infuriating words that have been on the Department of Education site for years,

Will I automatically receive PSLF after I’ve made 120 qualifying monthly payments?

No. After you make your 120th qualifying monthly payment, you will need to submit the PSLF application to receive loan forgiveness. The application is under development and will be available prior to October 2017, the date when the first borrowers will become eligible for PSLF.

posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 2:52 PM on May 18 [6 favorites]


If this went through, it would literally cause public defenders to quit en mass. Which would shut down the government.
posted by likeatoaster at 3:06 PM on May 18 [4 favorites]


Looking at that article, income-driven repayment plan changes sound much more nebulous at this point, most probably because they require some actual thought and ability to do math, whereas eliminating PSLF means "free money!" to Ed. It is also really not clear from that article that the changes would be retroactive. Retroactively changing everyone's income-driven repayment plan would overwhelm the servicers and would face much more serious legal challenges than dropping PSLF, sad to say. (There's a reason we have so many similar-ish repayment plans now; it's because consolidating them would represent a huge logistical and significant legal challenge, so new offerings don't replace the old ones, but merely co-exist with them.)

I just want people to understand that if you are currently certifying for PSLF, you are almost certainly also in an income-driven repayment plan. (I mean, technically, yes, you're allowed to be in Standard and be enrolled in PSLF, but it would get you no real benefit, as on that plan you will have paid off your loans by the time they would be forgiven.) PSLF is not a separate, independent payment plan. It's an additional benefit people already in certain repayment plans can earn after ten years of payments while employed at a qualified employer. Taking away PSLF by itself shouldn't change those payments. It will "just" mean you'll be repaying for 25 instead of 10, and may have a tax bill at the end. ("Just...")

There has always been an issue of equity in choosing to calculate payments on individual rather than household incomes. Currently there's a morally untenable filing-jointly vs. filing-singly distinction in the older programs. Of all the things I might get up in arms about, that's probably the least of them, especially if the change is merely on a going forward basis.
posted by praemunire at 3:09 PM on May 18 [1 favorite]


In all of this, I can't help but be reminded that Ayn Rand openly admired a child murderer for his complete disregard for humanity. Cutting this program isn't a byproduct of greed, it's a concerted effort to inflict pain. They want to hurt us, because they think it's the morally superior thing to do.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 3:10 PM on May 18 [6 favorites]


Currently there's a morally untenable filing-jointly vs. filing-singly distinction in the older programs.

Of all the things about the student loan racket that I'd describe as "morally untenable," that is pretty fucking far down the list. (Speaking as someone who will have no choice but to get divorced if these changes go through.)
posted by enn at 3:18 PM on May 18 [5 favorites]


It is also really not clear from that article that the changes would be retroactive. Retroactively changing everyone's income-driven repayment plan

You wouldn't need to change IDR plans retroactively. If you changed them going forward, and forced married couples on to a plan that counted both incomes, monthly payments would skyrocket.

Just as one example:
* One person. $50K income, $50K loan, single. REPAYE: $266 per month.
Person gets married. (Yay!)
* Married couple. $50K spouse 1, $50K spouse 2, $50K loan (one person),. REPAYE: $620 per month.

Same people. Same loan. The act of getting married on REPAYE increases your payment by 237%. If everyone is forced on to a REPAYE-like plan, and both incomes are forced to be counted, monthly payments would skyrocket where both people work and one person has loans.

And again, this is separate (but related) from yanking PSLF. Yanking either the existing IDR plans (retroactive or not) or PSLF (retroactively) could be financially catastrophic.

There has always been an issue of equity in choosing to calculate payments on individual rather than household incomes. Currently there's a morally untenable filing-jointly vs. filing-singly distinction in the older programs

I don't know what's untenable about it. Filing separately means married people pay what single people pay in monthly student loans on IDR plans. To force married borrowers to count both incomes means for one loan, you pay far, far less as a single person. In the example above, the REPAYE couple would save $350 per month by getting divorced.
posted by cnc at 3:18 PM on May 18 [1 favorite]


This will cause suicides. I know so many attorneys whose lives will be ruined if this doesn't pay off for them. No, their monthly payment will not change, but they have spent the last decade thinking that in October they could start their "real" adult life financially speaking. I am just so, so fucking angry. I knew this was coming, but it still makes me absolutely sick.
posted by gatorae at 5:39 PM on May 18 [9 favorites]


Isn't this proposal likely to be as unsuccessful as the other proposed budget cuts?
posted by Selena777 at 6:08 PM on May 18


Isn't this proposal likely to be as unsuccessful as the other proposed budget cuts?

This will, if passed, ruin people financially and in other ways mentioned upthread. Case in point - if it succeeds, I won't have children, because the $1000 I'd spend on day care will have to go to the federal government.

So yeah, there may be *other* proposals that have failed. But failing to impose term limits on congressional reps doesn't carry the same weight as, you know, not having children because the government completely fucked me over.

Default is not an option. I don't want myself, coworkers, friends or family harassed.
posted by onecircleaday at 7:03 PM on May 18 [3 favorites]


Here's the language from my Master Promissory Note:

Public Service Loan Forgiveness
A Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program is also available. Under
this program, we will forgive the remaining balance due on your eligible
Direct Loan Program loans after you have made 120 payments on those
loans
(after October 1, 2007) under certain repayment plans while you are
employed full-time in certain public service jobs. The required 120
payments do not have to be consecutive. Qualifying repayment plans
include the REPAYE Plan, the PAYE Plan, the IBR Plan, the ICR Plan, and the
Standard Repayment Plan with a 10-year repayment period.
Note: Although the Standard Repayment Plan with a 10-year repayment
period is a qualifying repayment plan for PSLF, to receive any loan
forgiveness under this program you must make the majority of the required
120 payments under the REPAYE Plan, the PAYE Plan, the IBR Plan, or the
ICR Plan.

I'm no lawyer, but the fact that it says "we WILL" and not "we MAY," in my mind, is a really good thing. It's a legally binding contract and clearly states that they'll pay the remainder of the balance, as long as the terms are met.

In a lawsuit, I think they'd have to honor the contracts of people who have already made qualifying payments and submitted ECFs to the Dept of Ed.
posted by onecircleaday at 8:02 PM on May 18 [2 favorites]


I'm not going to pretend that this would be an improvement in outcome, but your immediate, day-to-day life shouldn't be affected

Yeah, the lives of people heavily burdened by loan payments won't change. The burden won't be lifted. Despite them having taken lower-paying jobs, made higher monthly payments than they would have been making under an extended repayment plan, and been counting the months until their loans are forgiven and they can actually, say, qualify for a mortgage, that will now not happen. Exactly.
posted by salvia at 8:04 PM on May 18 [2 favorites]


I'm not going to pretend that this would be an improvement in outcome, but your immediate, day-to-day life shouldn't be affected.

Not to pile on, because I see what you're saying in the short term, and in a sense you're right. Each week, each month, could be the same financially, assuming the borrower stays on IBR. However, the long term ramifications of this policy change are actually staggering when you stop and think about it. Fifteen *more* years of payments absolutely changes your future, which, in turn, affects your day-to-day life. These are payments that skyrocket if they dump IBR, as cnc noted above.

For me, that would be making payments not until I'm 45... but until I'm 60. In this scenario, I can no longer save for retirement, buy a home, put money in an emergency fund, pay for the kid's college (or at least help them), take care of aging parents, travel, pay for unexpected medical bills, deal with increase in rent, etc. My quality of life is diminished because my major life choices are already made for me within the confines of crippling debt.

I mean, who cares if I can afford a $5 coffee on any given Monday, when all of the things I noted above are out of reach?

And this is compounded by the fact that many people in this situation (myself included) couldn't make it in their chosen profession.... because of the low pay and high debt.
posted by onecircleaday at 8:37 PM on May 18 [10 favorites]


However, the long term ramifications of this policy change are actually staggering when you stop and think about it.

Yes. I know. I have already thought about it, at length. I also know that many people have only the vaguest grasp of the terms of their loan repayments, and that not a few think that if PSLF goes away, they will suddenly face the frightening prospect of making much larger monthly payments right away. Therefore, I thought it worth making the point that that, at least, won't happen (at least, not based on PSLF-only changes). I know people are upset, and rightfully so, but I am a little surprised that this has resulted in the conclusion that I don't grasp what an additional fifteen years of loan repayment and less favorable tax treatment for forgiveness means for people.

You wouldn't need to change IDR plans retroactively. If you changed them going forward, and forced married couples on to a plan that counted both incomes, monthly payments would skyrocket.

OK, so I don't think you're quite getting what retroactivity would mean in this context. To remove someone from a program in which they are currently enrolled would effectively require a retroactive change to the terms of repayment that they have currently agreed to. I wouldn't put trying anything past the current administration, but this is the least likely of the scenarios politically, and the most difficult to put through legally, as well. Far more likely that, if Ed makes changes, Ed would introduce a new program with new terms for new enrollees, going forward, and cease enrolling borrowers in any of the older programs, since it would be hard to argue that a new enrollee would be entitled to enrollment in any specific program.

To force married borrowers to count both incomes means for one loan, you pay far, far less as a single person. In the example above, the REPAYE couple would save $350 per month by getting divorced.

Yes, the math is not difficult. As a practical matter, for married couples, financial need is a question of household, not individual, income. It is not reasonable to argue that a single legal-aid attorney earning $40K a year is in the same financial situation as a legal-aid attorney earning $40K a year who is married to, say, a fellow attorney earning $180K a year as a first-year at a large firm. But, under the older plans, they end up with the same monthly payment. If any new administration plan follows REPAYE in this regard, I wouldn't find that aspect that objectionable.

made higher monthly payments [under PSLF] than they would have been making under an extended repayment plan

Again, if you are certifying for PSLF, you are almost certainly currently enrolled in the same repayment plan as you would be anyway. There is no special "PSLF plan" payment calculator, because there are no distinct PSLF-eligible loan repayment terms. It's possible that you might be making a lower monthly payment if you had gone instead from a ten-year Standard repayment to a thirty-year consolidation loan. But that would mean you would actually be paying more, probably considerably more, over the lifetime of the loan.
posted by praemunire at 9:19 PM on May 18


I'm a social worker who specifically had not gone into private practice because of my PLSF.

In addition I may have never even have been a social worker- being a social worker it's insane when you think about it, as it is in a field that requires a masters degree with a 2000 hour unpaid internship, with a variation of supervised hours by state( 3000 post grad) for possible licensure with starting salaries as low as 28,000 for full time salaried work that may include more than 40 hours a week. Salary averages are quite low, even for LCSWs if you stay in the nonprofit world. There is absolutely no way for me to afford to own a home with my loans, and without them it's still very rough and relies on luck and finding good pay. Comparatively, I have median pay for my field, but it's definitely not enough to actually tackle my student debt. I'm currently 6 years in and have been counting down the time.
posted by AlexiaSky at 11:37 PM on May 18 [7 favorites]


As a practical matter, for married couples, financial need is a question of household, not individual, income. It is not reasonable to argue that a single legal-aid attorney earning $40K a year is in the same financial situation as a legal-aid attorney earning $40K a year who is married to, say, a fellow attorney earning $180K a year as a first-year at a large firm. But, under the older plans, they end up with the same monthly payment.

These programs are explicitly not need-based, they are income-based. Someone earning $40K in San Francisco is not in the same situation as someone earning $40K in Des Moines. There are many differences in how much access people making the same salary have to parental funds or property. These situational differences are also ignored by the income-based repayment programs, because the primary purpose of these programs is not to meet financial needs. Their purpose is to incentivize qualified people to take socially-useful but low-paying jobs. This incentive applies just as much to someone with a wealthy spouse or parents as to someone who is solely dependent on their individual salary.
posted by enn at 6:40 AM on May 19 [6 favorites]


It is not reasonable to argue that a single legal-aid attorney earning $40K a year is in the same financial situation as a legal-aid attorney earning $40K a year who is married to, say, a fellow attorney earning $180K a year as a first-year at a large firm.

It is also not reasonable to argue that this scenario is typical or that household finances have been set up in an equitable way between the two partners. That spouse earning $180K might be kind of an asshole and blow all their money on speedboats n' blow, and while they live in a nice house (or whatever), the $40K spouse is effectively living on $40K a year and bringing tuna sandwiches to work.

Or, more charitably, the $180K-earning spouse might be spending most of their income supporting an aging parent or a kid with special needs, and they're both taking tuna sandwiches to work and never having vacations. You just never know, and to base policy on these assumptions is incredibly harmful.
posted by witchen at 9:08 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


OK, so I don't think you're quite getting what retroactivity would mean in this context. To remove someone from a program in which they are currently enrolled would effectively require a retroactive change to the terms of repayment that they have currently agreed to.

You can switch repayment plans now to another plan you're eligible for and this doesn't trigger any retroactive action. Someone on IBR can switch to PAYE or REPAYE with no retroactive change. IANAL, but if a retroactive change isn't required to switch repayment plans now, I don't necessarily see why it would be later. Additionally, the WaPo article specifically says the administration wants to replace the existing plans.

It is not reasonable to argue that a single legal-aid attorney earning $40K a year is in the same financial situation as a legal-aid attorney earning $40K a year who is married to, say, a fellow attorney earning $180K a year as a first-year at a large firm. But, under the older plans, they end up with the same monthly payment. If any new administration plan follows REPAYE in this regard, I wouldn't find that aspect that objectionable.

And that's not the argument I made. My argument was specifically two middle class people ($50K salary each) getting married and having their loan payments immediately increase by over 200%, just by getting married.

Oh, and I ran your example. The single person making $40K would pay $183 under REPAYE. Marrying the other person would increase the REPAYE payment to $1,683 per month, if their loan amounts were high enough. Why should married people be penalized? The Federal government incentivizing divorce isn't objectionable?
posted by cnc at 9:14 AM on May 19 [4 favorites]


Or, more charitably, the $180K-earning spouse might be spending most of their income supporting an aging parent or a kid with special needs, and they're both taking tuna sandwiches to work and never having vacations. You just never know, and to base policy on these assumptions is incredibly harmful.

I completely agree. I live in an area where my spouse and I are in the top 10% in terms of income, and this policy change would financially kill us. On paper, it's easy to make a judgment call because I married someone who makes more than I do, and we both do fairly well. Reality is a different story - and not from buying boats 'n blow ; )
posted by onecircleaday at 9:42 AM on May 19


Why should married people be penalized? The Federal government incentivizing divorce isn't objectionable?

This is the reason why my partner and I are not (legally) married. We had a typical wedding service with all the trappings, and we have partially worked around the drawbacks using some of the same legal techniques employed by same-sex couples before same-sex marriage was legalized, but it's economically rational for us to remain legally single.
posted by jedicus at 10:51 AM on May 19 [3 favorites]


I am someone else who would be screwed by this, and who isn't married precisely because there is a financial disincentive due to my student loans and my partner's lack of them.
posted by aspersioncast at 4:25 PM on May 21 [4 favorites]


Justin Wolfers and Betsey Stevenson, two very good economists, have two children and are not married specifically because it doesn't make economic sense for them to do so.

(And their fellow University of Michigan economics and public policy professor Sue Dynarski recently tweeted that she was five years off on where she thought her student loan repayment was. She has two degrees from Harvard and one from MIT.)
posted by Etrigan at 6:15 PM on May 21 [1 favorite]


I came back from a weekend trip to a notice from the Dept of Ed that my IBR recertification was "on hold". I'm 85 payments into my 120 and live in constant fear of the day they refuse to recertify my IBR and charge me the full 10year repayment amount, which would be far more than our mortgage payment and utterly impossible to even try to pay. Maybe today is that day.
posted by T.D. Strange at 6:13 AM on May 22 [2 favorites]


Whelp, looks like we have nothing to lose but our chains.

Just kidding. See you next year at the debtor's workhouse. I'll be the one applying post-colonial theory to our gruel rations.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 6:43 AM on May 22 [5 favorites]


There really is no cry for activism on this--none of the weekly resistance to-do lists I get have even noticed it--the ABA, which is suing over the lack of clarity on "qualifying employment" has not even been agitating over this.

But it's really going to fuck over a lot of people and make it so much harder for people to find economic stability.
posted by crush at 10:11 AM on May 22 [3 favorites]


Just in case anyone stumbles across this in the near future, the administration has now clarified that the program would be ended for loans taken out on or after July 1, 2018, except those taken to complete an ongoing course of study (see the end of the article).
posted by praemunire at 2:59 PM on May 23 [3 favorites]


I was researching this a bit and came across this article from the Brookings Institute that is very anti-PSLF, and what pissed me off the most was the idea that people going to grad school somehow doesn't create public benefit. Public health nurses, mental-health clinicians in community mental health centers, doctors working in federally qualified health centers, researchers in public labs, probably SO MANY OTHER positions I'm not thinking of -- it's not like we got grad-school degrees for the hell of it; these positions REQUIRE advanced degrees. Argh.
posted by lazuli at 8:33 PM on May 23 [2 favorites]


people going to grad school somehow doesn't create public benefit.

First let me get the caveats out of the way: I'm a grad school dropout, who's looking at a very real outcome of leaving the public sector after 8 years of qualifying service, because a) private sector pays just as well or better and b) only have undergraduate student loans.

Going to grad school is an investment in dollars and forgone wages, which, depending on future outcomes, could be considered a bad or good investment. The public benefit is what grad students do with their knowledge post graduation. A number of fields are complaining about a glut of PhDs so maybe we shouldn't be encouraging them?

If we believe that the public sector salary levels are so low that graduates cannot afford to serve, and that PSLF can help encourage or enable people to enter public service, wouldn't direct raises accomplish the same thing without the drama of Lucy(R) pulling the football on Charlie?
posted by pwnguin at 12:17 AM on May 24


Public sector is not just Ph.D.s, though, nor just public universities. Government service is things like public health, environmental heath, infrastructure/engineering, health services, etc. I have an MA. Doctors would need MD or DO degrees and licenses. Nurses RNs or NPs. Public Defenders need JDs. LCSWs need MAs/M.Sc.s, etc. I don't know enough about research but I assume Ph.D.s would be necessary for a lot of the clinical stuff.

And the issue with raising salaries is that it's a political issue. I don't know if you've looked at the comment section of your local paper about government officials' salaries anytime recently (and for your own sake, I hope you haven't!), but "lazy government worker getting rich on my dime" is the overall dominant theme. I'm unionized, I live in a progressive-ish county in a very progressive state, and we still didn't have any raises (and by "any" I mean "including cost of living increases") for several years in part because we're basically at the mercy of taxes, and politicians don't really like raising taxes.
posted by lazuli at 5:45 AM on May 24 [2 favorites]


And the issue with raising salaries is that it's a political issue.... politicians don't really like raising taxes.

If you believe this (and history of full of supporting evidence), then I don't understand why you thought PSLF would survive. It is a time bomb with a 10 year fuse, that detonates as soon as you need political support to start paying for it.
posted by pwnguin at 10:06 AM on May 24


DeVos is refusing to say that voucher schools will be non-discriminatory. Of course, discrimination is at least half the reason they exist, so...
posted by zombieflanders at 10:09 AM on May 24 [1 favorite]


If they get rid of Public Service Loan Forgiveness I expect to see a lot of people trying to get their loans wiped out because they're totally disabled.

It's also totally unfair that you can't wipe out these loans with bankruptcy and that there's a ridiculously low cap on the amount of student loan interest that you can deduct on your taxes, $2,500.
posted by mareli at 11:17 AM on May 24


That the "administration has now clarified that the program would be ended for loans taken out on or after July 1, 2018, except those taken to complete an ongoing course of study" is meant to reassure. But it does not. It just lulls us into being okay with "I've got mine; fuck you" as a functional principle of government.

Yes, I have relied on the promise of loan forgiveness in making career choices. Yes, I am dependent on loan forgiveness as part of my retirement. Yes, I am slightly relieved that maybe my reliance will be protected. But I support the program because it underwrites skilled professional labor that my community and our society very much needs. Even if I were not eligible, I would be angry about the gutting of the program and pissed off that all the progressive agitators out there who want free college and guaranteed incomes and health care for all are not trying to protect an important interim step that fosters the belief that investing in the education (yes, even higher higher education) of our people is public good. That it means stronger, better, more functional communities, helmed by thoughtful skilled professionals.
posted by crush at 7:21 AM on May 30 [3 favorites]


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