Clearing up student loan confusion

About 1 in 5 Americans have student loan debt.
Published: Sep. 15, 2022 at 6:34 PM MDT|Updated: Sep. 15, 2022 at 6:41 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - Nearly everyone knows someone who has student loan debt but many borrowers can become confused about how much they owe and what they must pay back.

About 1 in 5 Americans have student loan debt and despite nearly 20 percent of all Americans having this deb,t many borrowers become confused or frustrated when it comes to information about their loans.

“I’d say with like paying them off and stuff like that, you get them but then figuring out like when you have to pay them off and how long it will take and stuff like that,” said Derek Willems, a freshman student who had to take out loans to help pay for school.

“Like the service provider because you don’t talk directly to the government for your student loans, they have like a middleman for you and that part did confuse me for a bit,” said Maximus Terra, another freshman student.

The most common loans are the parent plus loans and federal direct student loans which could be either subsidized or un-subsidized. The un-subsidized version accrues interest as soon as the student receives the funds.

All student loans accrue interest which raises the total payback amount higher than the original loan. Currently, the interest rate for both un-subsidized and subsidized loans is 4.99% for undergraduates.

In addition to loans, some students qualify for a Pell Grant, which is more income based.

“Pell Grant is not a student loan; Pell grant is gift aid so Pell grant funds if you qualify do not require that you pay them back. The student loan program, the direct student loans do require repayment after a student graduates or withdraws,” said Sharon Martin, the Financial Aid Coordinator for Western Dakota Technical College.

Under President Joe Biden’s student loan relief plan, borrowers who make less than $125,000 are eligible to be forgiven for up to $10,000 and students who received Pell grants could have their loans forgiven for up to $20,000.

In addition to Biden’s plan, there are other ways borrowers can have their loans forgiven such as utilizing the Public Service Loan forgiveness waiver.

People employed by a government agency, the military, or an IR- recognized non-profit can use this waiver.

“If you made 120 payments, they have a special waiver, and you have to fill it out before October 31 so that any of your payments that may not have qualified before because you have to make full monthly payments on time if you made a partial payment they’re going to accept them, so you want to make sure you apply for that wavier before October 31,” said Bonnie Spain, the Executive Director of the Consumer Credit Counseling Services of the Black Hills.

For more information on your student loans or to answer any questions, visit studentaide.gov.