(NationalUSNews.com) — In March 2020, former President Donald Trump suspended payments on federal student loans as a way to help people keep by during financial difficulties brought on by the pandemic and the government ordinances that contributed so much to those hardships. This break was then extended nine consecutive times until finally coming to an end on October 1st. Only 60 percent of those loan holders made that payment by mid-November, leaving 40 percent still delinquent.
Some of the non-payments were due to errors beyond the borrower’s control. The Education Department found that one of the country’s biggest student loan servicers, MOHELA, hadn’t sent out the billing statements on time, which caused more than 800,000 to become delinquent on their loans. To punish MOHELA for their grave error, the department withheld $7.2 million in payments from MOHELA in October. They added that they do not intend to rest until the Biden administration has fixed the broken federal student loan system.
However, some people aren’t missing their payments by accident or because of hardship, but on principle. Student loan forgiveness is still a volatile issue for students, families and politicians. Astra Taylor is a co-founder of the Debt Collective, a union for debtors, and she has characterized this as a massive “student debt strike”. She commented that when people are deciding whether to pay their rent, feed their families or pay off a tiny amount of student debt they are simply prioritizing their immediate needs over the giant debt looming over their lives.
Others are looking for loopholes. Travis Hornsby, founder of StudentLoanPlanner.com, says that many of his clients have successfully exploited a provision for Americans living abroad. The program is called Pay As You Earn (PAYE) and it utilizes the Foreign Earned Income Tax Exclusion. In some cases, an American living abroad who earns under a certain amount, which is $120,000 for 2023, could legally owe nothing on their monthly student loan payments. Under current federal guidelines those loans could then be forgiven in 20 to 25 years. In the meantime, the Education Department is working to protect those unable to make their payment from the harshest repercussions for as long as they can.
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