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NATIONAL STUDENT DEBT FORGIVENESS IN THE 2020 ELECTION

3 Ways Trump May Change Student Loans

The Benefits of the Federal Student Loan Forgiveness Programs and Tax Laws

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Trump Student Loan Forgiveness

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Many student loan borrowers are wondering how Donald Trump’s plans for dealing with the student loan crisis will affect them going forward.  In addition, borrowers are also wondering how his choice for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, will want to handle federal student loans in the future.  While being an outspoken advocate in many areas of education, she has yet to address the particular issue of student loans.

Both of these are important questions that may finally be getting early answers.  Sadly, those answers are scary for a huge number of student loan borrowers.  Reports as of May 2017 are that Trump and DeVos’ initial education budget will seek to eliminate the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program which could cost student loan borrowers billions of dollars.  Trump and DeVos will likely seek to eliminate over $700 million in Perkins Loans and massively reduce the amount of work-study programs.

 

How Trumps New Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Affects Students & Borrowers

On 12/22/2017, the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act was passed into law. Within the 429 page document, there are changes made to existing laws that would significantly affect current students, those with student loans, as well as parents who have dependents on their taxes currently in school.

Student Loan Discharges No Longer Taxable Income

Section 11031 of the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act modified student loan discharges through total & permanent disability(TPD) from being added to the borrowers gross income.  Under the new law, discharge student loans are no longer seen as taxable income if applying for disability discharge.  This is a hugely beneficial change for disabled borrowers who want to apply for discharge on their federal student loans.  Previously many borrowers elected not to apply for discharge and remained in an income-driven repayment plan.

Disabled borrowers were afraid to have their student loans discharged since they would see a hefty tax bill due at the end of the year, which was in many cases unmanageable.  This change made by the Trump administration comes as a huge relief to disabled federal student loan borrowers.

Interest Deduction

One big change presented in the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act is that interest deductions for student loans are being wiped out starting in 2018. Currently, if you are earning under $65,000/yr as a single, or $130,000/yr if you are married and filing jointly, you are eligible for an interest deduction on your student loans of up to $2,500.  IRS records show that in 2015 there were 13.4m people who claimed that deduction and the average deduction was $1,100.  For someone in the 25% tax bracket, that would translate to a reduced tax liability of $275.  It’s not a huge amount, but for a struggling individual out of college trying to make ends meet, every dollar matters.

*This was removed from the final version of the law that was passed.

Graduate Tuition Waivers Will Be Taxed

Graduate students often take up jobs at their university in exchange for a tuition waiver.  These grads are often working on research, teaching in a classroom, and trying to earn their graduate degree at the same time.  The school will waive a portion of their tuition, most often into the many thousands of dollars for their work.  Currently, the IRS does not see that tuition waiver as taxable income.   Beginning in 2018, it would.  For a graduate who earns a $25,000 tuition waiver and is in the 12% tax bracket, this would result in a tax bill of $3,000 dollars, when they may not even have an actual income.  These are students working full time to earn that waiver but may not have any actual REAL income.

*This was removed from the final version of the law that was passed.

American Opportunity Tax Credit Improved

The American Opportunity Tax Credit has been improved by the Tax Cuts & Job Act.  This is one of the more popular deductions for student loans that allows up to a $2,500 deduction for qualified education expenses for the first 4 years of higher education. The IRS data show that 9m Americans applied for this tax credit last year.  The Tax Cuts & Jobs Act has increased the allowable deduction period to five years instead of four, but the fifth year is at a reduced $1,250 deduction.  The deduction is calculated as being 100% of the expenses incurred up to the first $2,000, and after that it’s 25% of the next $2,000 for a max of $2,500.

Lifetime Learning Credit Being Axed

The Lifetime Learning Credit is being repealed, which allows a credit offset of 20% on the first $10,000 of your education expenses.  This translates into a deduction of up to $2,000, which could be used for many years as you had education expenses. The big difference between the American Opportunity Tax Credit & the Lifetime Learning Credit is that the latter allows for deductions based on vocational expenses.  By removing this tax credit it is hurting those who are looking to improve their skill and gain useful hands-on training in a field that may not be available at a traditional university

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External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by Platinum Debt Services. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

Platinum Debt Services refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income-Driven Repayment plans, including Income-Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Platinum Debt Services always recommends that you consult a qualified financial advisor to discuss what is best for your unique situation.

Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.

Third Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with Platinum Debt Services, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

Platinum Debt Services was founded by a young group of professionals who recognized that they student loan crisis was partly due to that fact that borrowers do not know their options. Our main goal is to educate and empower consumers by providing up to date new programs and information.

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