Repayment extension for student loans welcome for area undergrads

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Those who haven’t had to repay their students loans in over two years can let out another sigh of relief as the White House has extended its pause on federal student loan payments until Aug. 31, 2022.

The pause, first enacted on March 13, 2020 at the onset of pandemic shutdowns, was set to expire on May 1, 2022. This recent extension was announced Wednesday.

While the world may have “reopened” substantially since the first payment moratorium — inflation, lasting pandemic effects, and other economic factors have strengthened the argument to give student borrows some extra time.

Anyone who’s gone to school in the last several decades may have or have had their own student debt, but what kind of debt are undergrads currently facing?

The average tuition to currently attend local state colleges full-time per semester as a NYS resident is listed below
(not including mandatory fees, room and board, and other expenses):

SUNY Polytechnic Institute — $3,535;

Mohawk Valley Community College — $2,297;

SUNY Morrisville — $7,070 (per year, not per semester);

SUNY Herkimer — $2,558;

It’s unclear just how much student debt New Yorkers are presently saddled with, but in a letter sent by members of congress on March 31, 2022 urging President Joe Biden to enact a repayment extension, lawmakers say that approximately nine-in-ten borrowers are “not financially secure enough to restart payments in May and many cannot afford necessities their families depend on, like rent and healthcare.”

Adrienne Fleming of Mohawk, NY, holds two bachelor degrees from two separate occasions from SUNY Oneonta. She says that although her student debt isn’t anything “crazy,” it’s still a burden, and not having to repay has been a huge relief. “It reduces my stress so much, one less thing to worry about,” she said.

Over the years, legislators in New York have taken their own stance against the issue of student debt. In 2017, Governor Cuomo enacted the Excelsior Scholarship Program, awarding tuition-free college to in-state students attending a SUNY or CUNY school who come from families making up to $125,000 a year. The program is ongoing, and those currently seeking aid can be awarded up to $5,500 per year to cover the gap in tuition left behind by other financial aid.

The state projects that by 2024, 3.5 million jobs in New York State will require an associate degree or higher.

The action applies to more than 43 million Americans who owe a combined $1.6 trillion in student debt held by the federal government, according to the latest data from the Education Department. That includes more than 7 million borrowers who have defaulted on student loans, meaning they are at least 270 days late on payments. In addition to the repayment extension, the federal government will be allowing all borrowers with paused loans to receive a “fresh start” on repayment — anyone who’s account is considered delinquent or defaulted due to late or missed payments can reenter repayment in good standing.

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