NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Sen. Charles Schumer was applauding Barack Obama on Sunday as the president was preparing to issue an executive order that will help Americans struggling to pay off their student debt.
Obama on Monday will announce he’s expanding his “Pay As You Earn” program that lets borrowers pay no more than 10 percent of their monthly income in loan payments, the White House said. Currently, the program is only available to those who started borrowing after October 2007 and kept borrowing after October 2011. Obama plans to start allowing those who borrowed earlier to participate, potentially extending the benefit to millions more borrowers.
The program is expected to shrink student loan debt for an additional 5 million Americans.
Schumer told reporters in Midtown, including WCBS 880’s Monica Miller, on Sunday it’s a crucial move to strengthening the economy.
“After 20 years, they will not have to pay any student debt if they’re private-sector workers — after 10 years, if they’re public-sector workers or nonprofit workers.”
Eighty-six percent of outstanding school loans are federal.
“It’s one of the outrageous things, that the federal government is charging students an abnormally high rate of interest,” Schumer said.
The program already applies to recent graduates. The executive order will cover those who took out loans before October 2007 or who stopped borrowing before October 2011.
Obama also plans to announce he’s directing the government to renegotiate contracts with federal student loan servicers to encourage them to make it easier for borrowers to avoid defaulting on their loans. And he will ask the Treasury and Education departments to work with major tax preparers, including H&R Block and the makers of TurboTax, to increase awareness about tuition tax credits and flexible repayment options available to borrowers.
At the same time, Obama will use the Rose Garden appearance on Monday to amplify his call for lawmakers to pass more sweeping legislation that would let college graduates with heavy debts refinance their loans. The Senate is expected to debate the legislation next week, but it faces significant obstacles.
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