OAKLAND — California Attorney General Rob Bonta and the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office led a multistate coalition in a comment letter supporting the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) proposed changes to income-driven repayment plans (IDR) for federal student loan borrowers, and urging further action to address the student debt crisis. IDR plans aim to reduce the burden of high monthly payments on struggling federal student loan borrowers, but the program has long suffered from regulatory and servicing problems. The proposed changes would help ensure that student loan borrowers have greater access to more affordable repayment terms.
“For too long, our country’s student borrowers have suffered in an endless cycle of mounting interest and debt that feels impossible to pay off,” said Attorney General Bonta. “President Biden’s proposals to improve our student loan system are welcome, and desperately needed for a system that is currently broken. It is long past time for us to begin to lift the burden of decades of ever-increasing student debt off Americans’ shoulders.”
IDR is a critical federal program that allows struggling federal student-loan borrowers to reduce their monthly payment based on their income and other factors in addition to extending their repayment term. Once the term is up, any remaining balance is automatically forgiven. Attorney General Bonta and the multistate coalition applaud ED’s proposals as vital steps toward repairing the flawed IDR system.
In the comment letter, the coalition supports ED’s proposal to end negative amortization experienced by borrowers whose IDR payments are too low to cover interest and to increase income exemption thresholds so that borrowers’ monthly payments in IDR are lower. Under the proposed rule, many more borrowers would qualify for $0 IDR payments, and ED would waive unpaid interest for borrowers in IDR to prevent the ballooning of their loan balances. Under these changes, more Californians will be able to take advantage of IDR plans.
Additionally, the Attorneys General urge ED to undertake further reforms, including making these reforms available to borrowers with ParentPlus loans, giving more borrowers credit toward IDR forgiveness for past periods spent in deferment and forbearance; making IDR plans a pathway out of lowering administrative barriers to IDR entry.
Attorney General Bonta and Massachusetts lead a state coalition including Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Washington, Wisconsin, and Vermont in filing the comment letter.
A copy of the letter can be found here.