24 July 2012

"You Don't Owe That"

WSJ | You Don't Owe That: An Obama proposal would make it easier not to repay student loans

Here's my Student Loan Reform proposal: by some miracle or magic, make loan servicers actually bill people the correct amount.

It has now been ten months since we submitted the relevant paperwork to FedLoans,*Run by the State of Penn-sylvania and explicitly licensed by the Dept. of Ed. and they still can't correctly calculate our bill. Some loans they're over-charging us for, and some under-charging. (And no, it doesn't come out even.) Why does the government have an Income-Based Repayment program if their approved loan servicers can't read a 1040 and figure out what your income is? The other servicers managed to get this sorted out in a lightening-quick six month window.

Once when we submitted the paperwork again to correct one of their errors, FedLoans admitted to throwing out the papers un-read, because they assumed they were duplicates. Of course they didn't tell us until eight weeks later that they didn't even bother reading them.

This is not difficult financial wizardry we're asking FedLoans to do. The D.O.Ed. has a website that can calculate the right answer with about a dozen lines of javascript. You could train sixth-graders to figure out the appropriate payments. Get it right.

Until the Federal government can actually bill people for the loans it already owns it has no business mucking with any new student debt rules.

General Rule: Don't pass any more reforms until you can get people to properly implement the current system.

Also, for the record: until such a time as someone figures out how to repossess a college degree or otherwise force students to put up collateral, discharging student loans in bankruptcy is bad news.

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