Why Student Loan Forgiveness Ain’t All It’s Cracked Up to Be

No one wants to think about their student loans. However, about 70 percent of those graduating with a bachelor’s degree will leave school with debt.

Clearly, this is an issue that’s important to many people. Having to pay off hefty student loans can be detrimental to the financial health of an individual. Even if they secure a good job after graduation, having to repay all that debt will inhibit many people from making big purchases—such as a house or car. While some people default on their unmanageable loans, other people look for student loan forgiveness. Unfortunately, while this sounds good in theory, it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

What Is Student Loan Forgiveness?

The Obama administration put into place several measures that were aimed to help college graduates repay their debt. The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program was one of these attempts. In an ideal world, this program was meant to give grads a path to lowering their debt to more manageable levels. This allows them to repay what they can without having to default on their loans. There are several ways the repayment is calculated based on various situations. Essentially, income, family size, and loan size all contribute to the amount someone will need to pay back. While payments can be lowered for a lot of people, there are some major drawbacks to the system.

You Have to Pay Taxes on Forgiven Loans

It’s important that people considering loan forgiveness understand one thing: You are not getting free money from the government. There’s a famous saying that goes “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” This most certainly needs to be considered when navigating the world of student loan forgiveness. You will want to think that all your forgiven debt will just be wiped from your plate. That isn’t quite how student loan debt forgiveness works. All your forgiven debt will be considered income by the government.

And what do you have to do with income? That’s right: Pay taxes on it. If $25,000 of your student loan debt is forgive, you are going to need to pay Uncle Sam taxes on that based on your income bracket.

There are ways you can go about lowering your debt without forgiveness. You will likely want to use a budget planner to get started. Get an app that can help track your spending habits. This will help you plan ahead and only spend money that’s in your budget.

The Qualification Process Is a Nightmare

You also can’t just assume that you will be granted an opportunity for student loan forgiveness. There’s an extensive, selective application process. You will need to fit within certain income and employment constraints. You will also need to be continually making on-time payments. If any of these things are askew, you might not qualify for any forgiveness. Plus, even if you qualify at first, you need to keep requalifying over the years. This can be an extremely stressful process for people whose financial stability is in jeopardy. There have additionally been recent reports of errors and abuses plaguing the loan forgiveness program, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The Future of Debt Forgiveness Is Unclear

There’s another reason to think twice before signing up for a student loan forgiveness program. The whole future of the enterprise is up in the air right now. The current administration isn’t in favor of the Obama-era measures. It’s possible that the present iteration of the law will be totally different in the coming years.

Student loan can be a life-altering obligation for a lot of people. The promise of debt forgiveness can sound too good to resist. Just make sure you fully understand the implications of any debt forgiveness program before you sign up for it.