Student-Debt Forgiveness Program Far Exceeds Cost Estimates

In the first projection of new student-loan relief efforts, the U.S. government will take in tens of billions of dollars less than expected from an Obama administration effort to assist borrowers. According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, more than $108 billion in student debt will be waived in the coming years—the first full-cost projection of a program that ties loan payments to borrowers’ incomes. In a report to be released Wednesday, the Government Accountability Office estimates some $137 billion of $533 billion in outstanding loan debt covered in the program will never be paid, as enrollment surpassed expectations and more than tripled in the past three years. The report, which only covers loans made through the 2016-2017 school year, slams the Department of Education’s accounting methods, which allegedly underestimated the cost of the debt-relief plans. The remaining $29 billion is projected to be forgiven in cases of death or disability. Under terms of the most generous loan agreements, borrowers’ payments are limited to 10 percent of their discretionary income each month, with the remaining balance waived after 10 to 2o years. Though it is controversial, the Obama administration has said the programs should be credited with reducing the number of new graduates who default on their loans.