For parents and grandparents, supporting the educational pursuits of their children or grandchildren is a heartwarming endeavor. However, with the complex landscape of student loans and ever-evolving repayment options, it can be daunting to determine the most effective way to assist with student loan balances. In this section, we will explore some essential steps to evaluate repayment strategies and gifting options for your loved ones.
The Dilemma of Paying Down Student Loans Directly
Given the confusion surrounding student loans and repayment, it’s not uncommon to wonder whether directly paying down those loans is the best course of action. Surprisingly, the answer may not always be a resounding “yes.” In fact, paying down student loans directly can sometimes reduce the amount that can ultimately be forgiven, particularly in light of the new repayment and forgiveness options available.
In such cases, alternative gifting strategies may be more beneficial. Let’s delve into five key steps to evaluate your options and decide on the best approach for helping your child or grandchild:
- Explore Studentaid.gov
To begin your journey, visit Studentaid.gov, where you will find a revamped website offering a plethora of resources, educational materials, and access to a helpful support desk. The site also outlines the new SAVE Program, which has streamlined income-driven repayment plans.
- Utilize the New Calculator
On Studentaid.gov, take advantage of the new calculator, which allows you to input loan information, household details, and income data. This tool will help you model repayment and forgiveness options, making it easier to visualize different scenarios.
- Investigate Forgiveness Programs
Look into forgiveness programs like SAVE or the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, which is available to government and non-profit employees. This includes professionals working in hospital systems, such as doctors, nurses, and support staff.
- Optimize Payment Options
If it appears that you or your loved one may qualify for forgiveness under one of these programs, the next step is to seek the lowest payment option available through an income-driven repayment plan. This approach maximizes forgiveness at the end of the loan term, even though it may require some initial legwork.
- Consider Alternative Gifting Strategies
For those still interested in helping their children or grandchildren, consider alternative methods, such as using the annual gift exclusion. By doing so, you can encourage your loved ones to use the gifted funds for purposes like saving for their first home or boosting their retirement accounts. Increased savings can not only secure their financial future but also reduce monthly student loan payments by decreasing their overall income.
At Wealth Dimensions, our financial planning process involves helping our clients craft and optimize their family and charitable gifting strategies. If you’re unsure about the best approach for your family, please reach out to any of our advisors to see if we’re the right fit for your financial planning needs.
For informational purposes only. Not intended as investment advice or a recommendation of any particular security or strategy. Information prepared from third-party sources is believed to be reliable though its accuracy is not guaranteed. Opinions expressed in this commentary reflect subjective judgments of the author based on conditions at the time of writing and are subject to change without notice. For more information about Wealth Dimensions, including our Form ADV Part 2A Brochure, please visit https://adviserinfo.sec.gov or contact us at 513-554-6000. Please be advised that this material is not intended as legal or tax advice. Accordingly, any tax information provided in this material is not intended and cannot be used by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer.