Loan forgiveness programs are a thing of the past, but paying back necessary loans for your education is still a reality for many college graduates.
The University of Idaho receives less than $7 million in federal student year per year, said Marilyn Whitney, communication and legislative affairs officer for the Idaho State Board of Education.
Last year, the SBOE Scholarship Review Committee took a look at loan forgiveness programs and asked if the programs were having the desired effect of helping students or was the program wasting money that could go to students in their specific fields of study.
“They determined that the programs had a great intent but it wasn’t benefiting students in any way,” Whitney said.
To go through a loan forgiveness program, students needed to enter a contract agreement before getting into their preferred college programs, Whitney said, and one problem with the contract was that some students weren’t accepted into the programs. The contract also required students to find and keep a job in Idaho after graduation, a task that proved difficult for many students, Whitney said. If the contract was broken through either of these issues, students needed to pay their loans back with no forgiveness.
When the decision to end the loan forgiveness program was made, the students that were already enrolled received no penalties and did not have to drop the program.
In spring of 2012, the average debt for UI graduates was $26,809, said Dan Davenport, director of Student Financial Aid. Many things have been implemented to help students through the loan process.
Starting in 2012, students who take out loans are now required to go through entrance counseling that teaches students what a loan is, the responsibilities of taking out a loan and loan repayment,
In previous years at the end of each semester, Student Financial Aid would offer programs to students who were about to graduate and who could learn about the repayment process, he said. The counseling program was discontinued this year.
Since the loan forgiveness program no longer exists, seniors are still required to go through exit counseling through the Student Loans website, Davenport said. If students don’t go through this program, federal regulation requires the Financial Aid Office to send out information through the mail.
“There are many programs out there to help students through the repayment process,” Davenport said.
A more popular choice for repaying loans is through the income based repayment program, Davenport said. Repayment is based on income after graduating college. It may be low when starting out and will increase as a graduate’s income increases. Some students have very low payments, whereas others may have no payments at all because their income is so low.
“There shouldn’t be any students that are delinquent on their loans through the income based repayment option,” he said.
Last year, Davenport said, about 6,000 UI students look out loans to pay for school.