Finance

What you need to know about New York’s student loan forgiveness program

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With the fate of the Biden administration’s student loan forgiveness plan uncertain and headed to the Supreme Court, New York State borrowers may have another option for relief.

The Get Back On Your Feet loan forgiveness program, launched in 2015, aims to “invest in recent college graduates with student loan debt who have decided to invest their future in New York,” said Angela Liotta, public information officer and director of communications at the New York State Higher Education Services Corp.

Under the program, certain state residents may be eligible for student loan forgiveness for up to 24 months.

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How the student loan forgiveness plan works and when to apply

There are about 2.5 million people in New York with federal student loan debt, who collectively owe nearly $100 billion, says higher education expert Mark Kantrowitz.

Here’s what borrowers need to know about the program.

You must have lived and attended school in New York

The state benefit is available to legal New York residents who have lived in the state for 12 consecutive months or more. If you are employed, you must also work in the state.

Among other requirements, applicants must have graduated from a New York State high school or have received a New York State high school equivalency diploma, and must have attended an in-state college or university and earned an undergraduate degree in or after December 2014.

You must also apply for the program within two years of graduation.

An income-based repayment plan is required

To qualify for the program, borrowers must be enrolled in an income-based repayment plan, in which their payments are generally limited to 10% of their discretionary income, such as the Pay as You Earn (PAIE) plan, the Revised Pay as You Earn Plan (REPAIE) or income-based repayment plan (IBR).

Eligibility is limited by income, type of loan

The program excludes those with an adjusted gross income of more than $50,000 per year.

Not all student loans qualify for government relief.

Under the direct loan program, subsidized and unsubsidized loans are eligible. Federal Family Education Loans (FFELs) may not be eligible, although you may be able to consolidate these loans into the Direct Program. Private student loans are unacceptable.

Biden administration stops accepting applications for student loan debt forgiveness

Meanwhile, credits taken during graduate school are also typically excluded from state forgiveness, and to qualify for the program you must have at most a bachelor’s degree at the time of application.

Not sure what type of student loans you have? You can check at Studentaid.gov.

Up to 24 months of student loan repayment

Under the Get On Your Feet loan forgiveness program, New York State can cover your full student loan bill for up to 24 months under a qualified income-based repayment plan.

The government makes payments directly to your student loan servicer.

Loan forgiveness could have tax implications. Recipients will receive a Form 1099 from the state and are encouraged to contact a tax professional, the IRS, or the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance for more information.

Federal student loan payments have been paused since March 2020, due to pandemic-era policies, and will remain suspended until a lawsuit over the Biden administration’s student loan forgiveness plan is resolved, or until the end of August — whichever comes first.

Although you can apply for the Get on Your Feet Loan Forgiveness Program now, applications will be reviewed for eligibility once federal student payments resume, Liotta said. However, if you believe you qualify, it’s a good idea to apply now because of the requirement to apply within two years of graduation.

Not eligible for this program? New York has a list of other state and federal student loan forgiveness programs.

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