Overview of student debt reform proposals

Most discussion on student debt involves debates over the desirability of free college and large-scale debt discharge programs. The proposals listed here involve a wider range of policy levers.

Student Debt Proposal #1: Eliminate First-Year Debt

The reduction of student debt taken on by first-year students through a combination of additional first-year financial assistance and restrictions on first-year loans would be an effective way to reduce total debt incurred by student borrowers.  This policy would also provide large benefits to students susceptible to payment problems because they did not finish their degree.  Go to this post for a more thorough discussion of a proposal to eliminate or substantially reduce debt incurred during the first year of college.

Student Debt Proposal #2:  Potential modifications to student loans

Existing programs designed to provide student borrowers debt relief are ineffective. Proposed reforms including — a relatively quick partial discharge of federal student loans, the elimination of interest charges on the maturity date of the loan, and the conversion of outstanding student debt at loan maturity to a tax liability collected by the IRS — would benefit both student borrowers and taxpayers.  Go here for a description of problems with existing student debt relief programs and my proposed reforms.

Student Debt Proposal #3: Facilitating on-time graduation

Students who fail to graduate on time take on high levels of student loans; hence, policies that improve on-time graduation rates would reduce student debt burdens.  There are multiple reasons why students fail to graduate on time and multiple ways to increase on-time graduation rates including — improvements in education prior to college, changes in college academic policies, and efforts to assist students dealing with hardships. Go herefor a description of polices designed to facilitate on-time graduation.

Student Debt Proposal #4: Reducing tradeoff between retirement savings & student debt repayment

Reforms centered on enhancing Roth IRAs and increasing incentives for the use of Roth IRAs would better balance saving for retirement and student debt repayment than the Secure Act 2.0 reforms that center on use of 401(k) plans. A first draft of a paper opposing the Wall Street view and suggesting new incentives can be found here

Coming Attractions: Forthcoming work on student debt includes — discussions of problems with public service loan programs and income based replacement loan programs, evaluation of potential regulation of private loans, the use of PLUS and parental PLUS loans, and treatment of student debt in bankruptcy.

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