The Biden administration’s proposed changes to income-driven repayment would cost $333 to $361 billion over the next 10 years, economists at the Penn Wharton Budget Model found.
The estimate is more than double what the Education Department said the plan would cost. The department said the plan would have a net budget impact of $137.9 billion over the next 10 years, assuming that the administration would be able to forgive up to $20,000 in student loans for eligible Americans and that the volume or quantity of loans issued wouldn’t change.
The Penn Wharton Budget Model, which is a nonpartisan research organization at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania that provides economic analysis of the fiscal impact of public policy, reached a similar estimate—$140 billion—using the department’s assumptions.
However, Penn Wharton Budget Model economists estimate that more borrowers will opt in to the new IDR plan. Currently about one-third of borrowers are enrolled in an income-driven repayment plan, but the report estimates that 70 to 75 percent of borrowers will opt in, which drove the higher cost estimate. If the take-up rate increases to 90 percent, the plan would cost $470 billion over the next 10 years.
This estimate doesn’t factor in how the IDR changes could affect student borrowing rates, increases in college tuition prices and enrollment and graduation rates. The organization plans to examine those factors in future reports.