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Cuomo proposes forgiveness plan for student loans

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By Madeline St. Amour

Asst. News Editor

theaspnews@gmail.com

Feb 3, 2015

   Gov. Cuomo outlined a loan forgiveness plan in his 2015 Opportunity Agenda that, if implemented, could have an immediate impact on college students. According to the governor’s website, it is called the “Get on Your Feet Loan Forgiveness Program,” and would promise college graduates two years free from loan payments, if they meet certain criteria.

   First, students in the program have to be an “eligible” New York State resident and they must continue to live in New York for two years after they graduate from college. They also have had to attend college within New York and be making less than $50,000 per year after graduation. Finally, to be eligible for this program, students have to also be enrolled in the federal Pay As You Earn (PAYE) program, which is a repayment program that adjusts a person’s monthly payments to fit his or her current income.

   The State would be paying the difference between the total amount of monthly payments and what the federal government covers through the PAYE program.

   The Governor’s Press Office was contacted for comments on the plan but did not respond.

   However, the governor’s website says that, “[With this plan] the State will ensure that 100 percent of a graduate’s loan payments for two years are covered so they are not overwhelmed with debt repayments while working to get situated in today’s job market.”

   The site also says that the program estimates 7,100 graduates would be enrolled in its first year. When the program is fully put in place, it is estimated to cost around $41.7 million.

   The University at Albany sees this proposal as an efficient way to keep recent graduates from leaving New York.

   “We feel the Governor’s proposal recognizes that the graduates of our universities are invaluable to the state and nation, and that it supports

UAlbany’s mission of access and affordability by helping to relieve the burden of student debt while also encouraging our educated young people to remain in and contribute to the state,” said Karl Luntta, a spokesperson for UAlbany.

   Whether or not this proposal gets put into action, the question is if it’s truly sustainable.

   College tuition is rising annually. According to the College Board Advocacy and Policy Center, public four-year colleges tuition and fees increased 5.6 percent on average each year from the 2001-02 school year to the 2011-12 school year (that number is based on in-state tuition and has been adjusted for inflation, as well). Additionally, according to the Project on Student Debt, created by the Institute for College Access and Success, in the class of 2013, 69% of graduates had some level of debt. The average amount owed was $28,400, up two percent from 2012.

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