Income-based relief

A new program will help keep monthly payments on student loans low.

The Department of Education (DOE) recently announced a plan that would create an insurance policy for needy students. The new income-based repayment program (IBR), a result of the College Cost Reduction and Access Act, will give students who are pinched by the high costs of college a new option that would cap repayment of most federal student loans at 10 to 15 percent of the studentâÄôs annual income. But what will be even more enticing for students is that after 10 years, all federal loans will be forgiven if the student is employed in public service. While it is daunting that this type of program is needed, the new program will indeed succeed in aiding students. Although the program is encouraging, it does have its faults. Because of the program refinancing loans up to 25 years, more interest will accrue during its life than if the loan would be paid off in the normal intervals of eight to 15 years. But with more than 65 percent of students borrowing an average of about $30,000 at four-year colleges and universities, programs like this have become a necessary reality. What the program does promise is reassurance to students that there is light at the end of the tunnel. The program will relieve students who do not go into public service of all student loan debt after 25 years of repayment and a noteworthy 10 years if one is to go into public service. Monthly repayments will be adjusted as incomes increase, giving students who are enrolled predictability as well. In all senses, it seems Congress is starting to see the daunting, unsustainable debt load that students are carrying after graduation. But this is not enough. What is scary about this program is that it assumes students will automatically have an unplayable debt load after college, and works from there. Now that this relief program is in place, the Congress should focus on where student debt originates: the higher education institutions themselves. Congress should push colleges and universities across the country to lower costs for students and eliminate the debt before it occurs.