The SAVE Repayment Program: A Beacon of Hope for Student Loan Borrowers


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By Jeffrey Hakanson, Bankruptcy and Consumer Debt Attorney, Tampa, Florida

In the ever-evolving landscape of student loans, borrowers often find themselves navigating a maze of repayment options, each with its own set of rules and benefits. One of the latest additions to this array of choices is the SAVE repayment program. As a dedicated advocate for those grappling with debt, I believe it's crucial to shed light on this new program and its potential advantages for borrowers.

What is the SAVE Repayment Program?

The Student Aid Valuation Engine (SAVE) is a new income-driven repayment (IDR) plan introduced to offer relief to federal student loan borrowers. It replaces the older REPAYE plan and comes with several debtor-friendly changes that can significantly reduce monthly payments for many.

Key Features of SAVE:

Income Consideration: SAVE caps monthly payments at 10% of a borrower's income over 225% of the federal poverty line. This means the first $32,805 of annual income for a single person isn't considered for repayments. In comparison, the REPAYE plan only exempted income equal to 150% of the federal poverty line.

Undergraduate Debt Benefits: If your student loans are solely from undergraduate studies, your payments under SAVE will be just 5% of your income above the 225% threshold. Those with both undergraduate and graduate debt will pay a blended rate between 5% and 10%.

Automatic Transition: Borrowers already enrolled in the REPAYE program should be automatically transitioned to SAVE. However, it's always a good practice to check and ensure the transition has occurred.

Why Consider Switching to SAVE?

The primary allure of the SAVE program is the potential for reduced monthly payments. By considering a higher threshold of the federal poverty line and offering lower percentages for undergraduate debt, many borrowers could see a significant decrease in their monthly obligations.

Moreover, with the uncertainties and financial challenges brought about by the global pandemic, having a repayment plan that aligns more closely with one's income can provide much-needed relief and financial flexibility.

Things to Keep in Mind:

While SAVE offers numerous benefits, it's essential to remember that IDR plans can extend your repayment period. Under SAVE, you might be paying for up to 20 years before any remaining balance is forgiven, or 25 years if you have graduate school debt. It's crucial to weigh the reduced monthly payments against the potential for a longer repayment timeline.

Final Thoughts:

The introduction of the SAVE repayment program is a testament to the ongoing efforts to make student loan repayment more manageable for millions of Americans. As with any financial decision, it's vital to assess your individual circumstances, understand the nuances of the program, and make an informed choice.

If you have questions about the SAVE program or any other aspect of student loan repayment, always seek guidance from trusted professionals. Remember, knowledge is power, and understanding your options is the first step towards financial freedom.

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Jeffrey Hakanson, Esq.