06 26 2016
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Yes, that's the student debt monster about to take a bite out of your pay check. You can view the video "Ditch Your Debt Gremlin" by the Project on Student Debt regarding Income Based Repayment at The Skanner's YouTube Channel 

Embedded in the historic health care legislation signed into law in March was a set of reforms to student aid that work to reduce the cost of college for borrowers and increase the number of need-based Pell Grants.

The bill did away with the system of providing students with federally guaranteed loans from private lenders, instead providing all federal loans through the Department of Education's direct loan program.
According to the nonprofit Project on Student Debt, the new law contains an especially important reform of the Income Based Repayment system. Income Based Repayment allows certain qualified individuals to make payments on student loans that are commensurate to their income.
Currently, IBR makes it so a borrower of a federal loan does not have to spend more than 15 percent of their discretionary income on student loan payments, and any remaining balance after 25 years of payments is forgiven. For borrowers taking out their first federal loan after 2014, that cap is lowered to 10 percent of discretionary income and remaining loan balance is forgiven after 20 years of payments.
"This legislation represents an historic step toward making college more affordable and helping all Americans complete a degree or certificate program," said Lauren Asher, president of the Institute for College Access and Success. "Streamlining the federal loan program and guaranteeing a minimum annual Pell Grant increase are necessary and overdue reforms that lay a strong foundation for future investments in students and families."
The IBR program has a significant effect on individuals and families who are burdened with high student aid debt to income ratios. According to the Department of Education, in order to qualify for IBR, your loan payment on a standard 10-year repayment schedule would have to be higher than 15 percent of what you earn above the 150 percent of poverty level.
Although many of the reforms that will significantly reduce the cost of a loan won't go into effect until 2014, current borrowers with direct loans or subsidized Stafford loans qualify. Unfortunately, parents who have taken out federal loans for their children do not qualify (please see http://studentaid.ed.gov/ for a full listing of restrictions and qualifications).
Interest on your loans does accrue at a normal rate for the these loans, but the federal government will pay interest on the first three years of subsidized and direct loans.
"Our country needs this reform now more than ever, as the economy drives people to seek education and training but leaves them less able to pay for it," Asher said in a statement.
Many of those who find themselves with high student debt while receiving median wages are those in public and nonprofit sectors of the economy. Although the motivation of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program is to encourage workers to choose public service careers, not charity, the result is clear – if you're working for a public or nonprofit sector employer and making payments under the Income Based Repayment plan, your eventual student loan bills might be a lot lower than if you'd chosen that job in the private sector.
For workers who make 120 on-time, full monthly payments while under the employ of any body or agency of the government or a 501(c)3 nonprofit, the remaining balance on federal loans is thereby forgiven. The loans do not need to be made consecutively to qualify, but each qualifying payment must be made while employed by a qualifying employer.
In addition to these improvements in student lending, the federal Pell Grants will increase according to the consumer price index, starting in 2013.
For more information about these loan payment programs, please follow the links at

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  • ST. LOUIS (AP) — A draft of the Democratic Party's policy positions reflects the influence of Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign: endorsing steps to break up large Wall Street banks, advocating a $15 hourly wage, urging an end to the death penalty. Hillary Clinton's supporters turned back efforts by Sanders' allies to promote a Medicare-for-all single-payer health care system and a carbon tax to address climate change, and freeze hydraulic fracking. While the platform does not bind the Democratic nominee to the stated positions, it serves as a guidepost for the party moving forward. Party officials approved the draft early Saturday. The Democratic National Convention's full Platform Committee will discuss the draft at a meeting next month in Orlando, Florida, with a vote at the convention in Philadelphia in late July. Sanders said Friday he would vote for Clinton, the presumptive nominee, in the fall election, but so far has stopped short of fully endorsing the former secretary of state or encouraging his millions of voters to back her candidacy. The Vermont senator has said he wants the platform to reflect his goals — and those representing him at a St. Louis hotel said they had made progress. "We lost some but we won some," said James Zogby, a Sanders supporter on the committee. "We got some great stuff in the platform that has never been in there before." Added Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., a Sanders ally: "We've made some substantial moves forward." Deliberating late into Friday, the group considered language on the Israel-Palestinian conflict, an issue that has divided Democrats. The committee defeated an amendment led by Zogby that would have called for providing Palestinians with "an end to occupation and illegal settlements" and urged an international effort to rebuild Gaza. The draft reflects Clinton's views and advocates working toward a "two-state solution of the Israel-Palestinian conflict" that guarantees Israel's security with recognized borders "and provides the Palestinians with independence, sovereignty, and dignity." In many cases, Clinton's side gave ground to Sanders. The document calls for the expansion of Social Security and says Americans should earn at least $15 an hour, referring to the current minimum wage of $7.25 an hour as a "starvation wage," a term often used by Sanders. Sanders has pushed for a $15-an-hour minimum wage. Clinton has supported efforts to raise the minimum wage to that level but has said states and cities should raise the bar as high as possible. Sanders' allies wanted the draft to specify calls for a $15 per hour minimum wage indexed with inflation. Clinton's side struck down a direct link, noting the document elsewhere included a call to "raise and index the minimum wage." The committee also adopted language that said it supports ways to prevent banks from gambling with taxpayers' bank deposits, "including an updated and modernized version of Glass-Steagall." Sanders wants to reinstate the Depression-era Glass-Steagall Act, which prohibited commercial banks from engaging in investment banking activities. Clinton does not, but says her proposed financial changes would cast a wider net by regulating the banking system. Also in the draft is a call for the abolition of the death penalty. Clinton said during a debate this year that capital punishment should only be used in limited cases involving "heinous crimes." Sanders said the government should not use it. Sanders, a vociferous opponent of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, was unable to get language into the document opposing the trade deal. As a result, the party avoided an awkward scenario that would have put the platform at odds with President Barack Obama. Clinton and Sanders have opposed the deal. Committee members backed a measure that said "there are a diversity of views in the party" on the pact and reaffirmed that Democrats contend any trade deal "must protect workers and the environment." In a setback for Sanders, the panel narrowly rejected amendments that would have imposed a tax on carbon and imposed a national freeze on fracking. The panel deliberated for about nine hours following several late nights and long hours of policy exchanges between the two campaigns and the Democratic National Committee. Sanders, in a statement, said he was "disappointed and dismayed" that the group voted down the measure opposing the TPP. But he was pleased with the proposals on Glass-Steagall and the death penalty — and vowed to fight on. "Our job is to pass the most progressive platform in the history of the Democratic Party," he said.
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