Student Loans

Subsidized Student Loans Haven't Worked as Advertised

Glitches and resentment limit the program's reach

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In his speech at the Democratic convention, former President Bill Clinton heaped praise upon a program that the Obama administration started to help people repay their student loans. Known as "income-based repayment," it lets borrowers adjust monthly payments down to 15 percent of their income and wipe out the debt after 15 years. "No one will ever have to drop out of college again for fear they can't repay their debt," Clinton said. "If someone wants to take a job with a modest income—a teacher, a police officer, if they want to be a small-town doctor in a little rural area—they won't have to turn those jobs down because they don't pay enough to repay the debt. Their debt obligation will be determined by their salary. This will change the future for young Americans."

It's notable that Clinton talked about how many people the program would help in the future. It's actually been around since 2009. So far it hasn't worked as well as policy makers had hoped.