Student Loans

White House Student Loan Forgiveness Program Threatens To Encourage Overborrowing

What's a little more red ink?

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Liliana Rodriguez-Marshall, a 30-year-old mother of three who graduated from Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles in December owing more than $300,000 in federal loans, plans to take advantage of the current program.

"Without it [my debt] would be unmanageable," she said.

Ms. Rodriguez-Marshall said she racked up the debt by spreading her degree over 4½ years from the normal three and taking out student loans to cover living expenses, which the government allows.

During her studies her husband was laid off and she twice had to take out emergency student loans totaling more than $30,000 to make home repairs, pay unexpected medical costs and keep up with the family's $1,000-per-month health-insurance bills, she said.

She now is applying for government jobs that pay about $55,000 a year. According to a repayment calculator created by the New American Foundation, a Washington-based think tank, Ms. Rodriguez-Marshall would pay $273 per month in her first year under the program; without it, she would owe $3,562 a month. Under the program, she would pay about $102,000 over 10 years, and the government would forgive about $639,000, which includes interest.

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