Tag Archives: federal budget

The Impact of the Potential Cut to Subsidized Student Loans

24 May

Casey Doten, Financial Aid Administrator – Purdue University

The newest federal budget proposal has proposed reductions to several federal student aid programs including cuts to Pell Grants, Work Study, and ending the Perkins loan program, Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (FSEOG), Public Service Loan Forgiveness, and subsidized federal loans to students. This budget proposal in its current state would have a direct financial impact upon any student with financial need, not just those in the lowest income brackets.
Cuts to Sub Loan.jpg

Ending subsidized federal loans would likely have the widest impact of the proposed cuts as there are currently over 29 million borrowers of these loans.

Subsidized loans are one of the most common forms of financial aid available to students who demonstrate financial need. They differ from unsubsidized federal loans because interest does not accrue on them while the student is still in school. If a student takes out a $3,500 subsidized loan their freshman year, it will still be $3,500 when they leave school while an unsubsidized loan would have accrued an extra $612 of interest in that time.

The difference becomes more stark when you compare subsidized versus unsubsidized over four years. A student taking out the maximum in federal loans each year for four years would borrow $27,000, of which $19,000 is subsidized. That student would have $27,785 of debt when leaving college versus a student who only had unsubsidized loan (which is what the budget proposal would lead to) would owe $29,353 when entering their grace period on the exact same amount borrowed, with the exact same interest rate.

Once a student begins repayment, all of that accrued interest gets added on to their loan balance and further gathers interest. For a student using the most aggressive payment plan, they will pay $2,081 more over the life of the loan because their loans were not subsidized.

Keep in mind these figures use interest rates from the past several years. Since student loan interest rates are keyed off treasury bonds rates, if the economy were to increase at the rate projected in the budget then student loan interest rates raise even higher as treasury bonds interest increases. This would further exacerbate the difference between subsidized and unsubsidized loans.

While graduating in four years is considered the norm, only 36% of students pursuing bachelor’s degrees do so. If a student takes even one more year to get their degree, the time for their interest to accrue becomes even greater. Loans for these students who can receive subsidized loans totals $32,341 on graduation, while unsubsidized-only adds up to $35,305. These two groups have a $3,513 difference in the life of the loan.

All told, subsidized loans would collectively save the 29.5 million current borrowers $45.5 billion assuming they all graduated in four years. That number only grows higher when realizing that many students take more than four years to graduate.

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