Borrowers can now apply for a repayment plan for their federal student loans, as part of President Joe Biden’s new approach to trying to relieve debt.
After his initial plan to outright forgive student loans was blocked by the Supreme Court, Biden turned to a new angle to provide relief.
The plan is called SAVE, or Saving on a Valuable Education. It’s referred to as an IDR, or an income-driven repayment program. Essentially, the amount of money a borrower has to pay each month is tied directly to how much money they make. In doing this, it will lower the financial burden that many people face.
IDRs are nothing new, but the Biden administration developed SAVE as an alternative to those types of programs that are already in place. That’s because one of the major downfalls of IDRs is that interest can easily snowball for lower-income individuals over the life of the loan, since the monthly payments are lower than they might be.
The big difference of the SAVE plan is that it will cut the percent of income that people must pay toward their outstanding student loan balance each month. For undergraduate loans, the current IDR rules say that borrowers must pay 10% of their income above 225% of the poverty line.
With the SAVE program, that gets reduced in half, to 5%. Borrowers who have either a student loan for either graduate or undergraduate studies will end up paying anywhere from 5% of their total income to 10% of their total income per month. That percentage will also depend on the original principal balance of the loans, according to the Biden administration.
The Department of Education said that any borrower who has a direct federal student loan that’s deemed to be in good standing qualifies to participate in the SAVE plan. It replaces the REPAYE plan that’s currently in place.
Anyone who is participating in the REPAYE plan will be enrolled automatically in the new SAVE plan, and their monthly payments will be adjusted accordingly, the White House said.
Those who aren’t already enrolled in that plan can sign up through the new beta site for the SAVE plan that has been set up, which can be found at studentaid.gov/idr.
The website describes the process for the beta application as such:
“We’re accepting applications now to help us refine our processes ahead of the official launch. If you submit an IDR application now, it will be processed and will not need to be resubmitted.”
The Department of Education also added that the option will appear and disappear from the site at times, since it is still working through some kinks. If people don’t see it when they visit the site, the DOE encourages them to check back.
The Biden administration has touted that the SAVE plan could help borrowers reduce their monthly student loan payments in half. Some may be able to save as much as $1,000 annually on their repayments.
Some people will even qualify to have their payments reduced all the way down to nothing.