President has plan to help Hoosiers overwhelmed with student loan debt

INDIANAPOLIS - President Barack Obama signed a presidential memorandum Monday that has the potential to ease the pain of those paying off student loan debt.

Obama’s plan is only available to those who started borrowing after 2007, so it won’t help everyone, but it will help some.

G. David Caudill, 44, is $94,000 in debt. He works but has had periods of unemployment and underemployment.

In an effort to raise his earning ability ceiling, he has returned to school to pursue a master’s degree in public administration. This time he got more grants than loans, but he doesn't know how he'll ever repay the money.

"I may finally get that paid off just in time to start collecting Social Security. So as soon as I give all my money to the government because they are government-backed loans, I will start collecting money from the government in my retirement," Caudill said.

Chelsea Thomas, 26, of Noblesville, is $70,000 in debt. Thomas currently pays $436 a month and that amount will increase next month to $700 a month.

She was so concerned she wrote letters to Obama to ask for help in managing the debt. 

He wrote a letter back, touting a Pay As You Earn plan. It lets borrowers cap their monthly payments at 10 percent of their income. The plan forgives loan debt after 20 years of responsible repayment or 10 years, if you are in public service. 

Thomas said she thinks the plan is a win-win for herself and the country.

"We're the next generation of homebuyers and other big purchases, and with all these student loan debts holding us down, there is just no way. To try and save up for a down payment on a house right now, it’s not possible. If we want to continue to grow the housing market, we’re going to need a little help," Thomas said.
Prospective students visited Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis Monday and the head of financial aid offered some advice.

"Borrow responsibly, graduate from IUPUI as quickly as you can -- take 15 credit hours per semester. Even that fifth year of college is expensive, and you’re thinking about not only tuition and fees but also lost income," said Marvin Smith with the IUPUI Office of Student Financial Services.

IUPUI officials announced Monday that Indianapolis Public Schools students will no longer have to pay to apply to the school in 2015. IUPUI will waive the $50 fee to promote access to secondary education.

Follow Derrik Thomas on Twitter: @derrikthomas

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