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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Obama Reduces Student Loan Burden

In this Oct. 6, 2011 photo, Gan Golan, of Los Angeles, dressed as the "Master of Degrees," holds a ball and chain representing his college loan debt, during Occupy DC activities. (AP)

In this Oct. 6, 2011 photo, Gan Golan, of Los Angeles, dressed as the "Master of Degrees," holds a ball and chain representing his college loan debt, during Occupy DC activities. (AP)

For the second time this week, President Obama will use his executive authority, this time to lower monthly college loan payments.

The plan will allow millions of student loan recipients to lower their payments and consolidate their loans, in hopes of easing the burden of the No. 2 source of household debt.

Obama’s planned announcement in Denver comes the same day as a new report on tuition costs from the College Board. It shows average in-state tuition and fees at four-year public colleges rose $631 this fall, or 8.3 percent, compared with a year ago. Nationally, the cost of a full credit load has passed $8,000, an all-time high.

The White House said Obama will use his executive authority to provide student loan relief in two ways.

First, he will accelerate a measure passed by Congress that reduces the maximum required payment on future student loans from 15 percent of discretionary income annually to 10 percent. The White House wants it to go into effect in 2012, instead of 2014. In addition, the White House says the remaining debt would be forgiven after 20 years, instead of 25.

About 1.6 million borrowers could be affected.

Second, he will allow borrowers who have a current loan from the Federal Family Education Loan Program and a direct loan from the government to consolidate them into one loan. The consolidated loan would carry an interest rate of up to a half percentage point less than before. This could affect 5.8 million more borrowers.

Some critics have said the plan would end up leaving taxpayers on the hook for the balance of loans that go unpaid, amounting to a student aid stimulus.

(Written with reporting from the AP)

Guest:

  • Tamar Lewin, New York Times national reporter covering education

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Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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