New York’s Cuomo Announces Student Loan Forgiveness Program

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New York State has begun accepting applications for the new Get On Your Feet Loan Forgiveness Program, which offers recent college graduates the chance to have up to two years of their student loan payments forgiven.

Governor Andrew Cuomo made the announcement as part of his 2015 Opportunity Agenda, offering up to 24 months of federal student loan forgiveness to recent college graduates living in the state.

“Ensuring students are able pay for college and not saddled with debt is critical for both their individual success and the continued economic growth of New York State,” Governor Cuomo said. “With this program, we are telling recent graduates: if you invest in New York’s future, we will invest in yours.”

Cuomo went on to say that a number of studies have shown that helping students afford a college education is important to making sure they succeed after graduation.  Students who graduate carrying debt are less likely to start their own business or purchase a home.  If students default on their loans, it can be extremely difficult to see their goals become reality.

The program offers supplementation for the federal Pay As You Earn loan repayment program and extends to eligible college graduates who live in New York State the ability to not pay toward their student loans for their first two years out of school.

In order to qualify, individuals need to have completed an undergraduate degree program at a college or university in the state of New York in or after December 2014 as well as having graduated from a high school or having received a high school equivalency diploma from the state.  Their adjusted gross income must be less than $50,000 and they must be enrolled in the federal Income Based Repayment plan or Pay as You Earn plan.  Those who are accepted to the program will be offered a maximum of 24 payments equal to their monthly student loan repayment amount, which will be paid on their behalf.  Applications are accepted all year.

According to the state website, applicants must also be current on their federal and state student loans, be current on repayment of any award given through the state, and be in compliance with the terms of any service condition imposed by a state award.

A 1099 form will be issued by the state Comptroller’s Office, showing how much of the loan has been forgiven.

Over 2,500 graduates from the class of 2015 have already applied for the program through the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation.  After the program is fully implemented in 2020, over 24,000 graduates are expected to have applied.

SUNY Student Assembly President and Binghamton University Student Thomas Mastro said of the program that it will offer time to SUNY graduates to settle into careers in the state before they need to become concerned with paying back their federal student loans.  He added that the SUNY Student Assembly encourages all students in the state to apply.