Trump’s Budget Proposal Could Increase College Student Debt, Raise Costs

March 12, 2019, 3:41 PM UTC

University student loans are in the crosshairs of President Donald Trump’s proposed fiscal year 2020 federal budget sent Monday to Congress.

Cuts and other revisions in the federal student loan program are woven into a 10% decrease in funding for the Department of Education, totaling $62 billion or $7.1 billion less than the department’s allotted funds for 2019.

James Kvaal, president of the Institute for College Access & Success, said the budget blueprint, subject to congressional changes, would “raise costs and increase student debt,” making borrowers pay $207 billion more on their student loans, which he calls a “dangerously wrong-headed proposal.”

First, the proposal eliminates subsidized student loans. Currently, students don’t accrue interest on their loans while they are still enrolled in school. Trump’s budget would do away with this, thereby potentially increasing the cost of attending college or graduate school for those with student loans.

The budget would also eliminate the public service loan forgiveness program. This program, signed into law by President George W. Bush, provides loan forgiveness to government and not-for-profit employees after 10 years of timely loan payments. Ending this program could deter students from entering a range of public sector jobs, such as becoming civil servants, police officers, firefighters, prosecutors, and public defenders.

The remaining income-driven student loan repayment plans would be folded into one under Trump’s proposal.

On the one hand, his plan calls for quicker loan forgiveness—at least for those with undergraduate student loans. Remaining student debt for such loans would be forgiven after 15 years rather than the current 20. But for graduate student loans, debt would be forgiven after 30 years, or five years later than the current options.

The proposal also increases the monthly payments to 12.5% of an individual’s income, and ultimately limits the choices for income-driven repayment plans to one.