The federal government is giving borrowers an extra year to prove they can repay their home loans.
The extension comes as many states begin to phase out auto loans and the federal government also has expanded its loan forgiveness program, which allows borrowers to refinance their loans at lower interest rates.
Under the extension, which goes into effect Dec. 31, borrowers must prove they are in a good financial position by paying down their debt in the next five years.
Federal loan servicers and lenders say they are confident that borrowers will be able to refile their loans as soon as possible, given the economic downturn.
For some, the extension could be a chance to avoid a lengthy mortgage payment cycle.
But others are struggling to make ends meet.
Liz O’Connor, a 25-year-old student who earns $50,000 a year and relies on food stamps to make her monthly payments, said she could only afford to pay $2,000 of her loan.
She said she has been working two jobs to help pay her rent.
In January, she took out a $10,000 loan on her home, and was due to owe $3,000 when she got her loan back.
She and her husband, a 30-year veteran of the military, also owe $1,500 in back taxes.
Liz and her mother, a retired teacher, had to take out two mortgages on their two houses to make it work.
But in April, the couple paid off their two mortgages and the mortgage balance had grown to $8,000, meaning they needed to pay the balance of the two loans in full.LIZ said they decided to pay off one loan and then refinance the other loan, so they could pay the mortgage off faster.
But after she paid off her first loan, she said she couldn’t afford to refinish her second loan.
Liza, a 37-year old mother of three who was born in New York, said that the government extension is not enough.
“The longer it’s going to take me to refill my debt, the more likely I’m going to have to have the second mortgage,” she said.
The U.S. has been struggling with the slow pace of job creation and lower household incomes.
And as the unemployment rate has been dropping, the cost of housing has soared.
Mortgage refinancing can be a lucrative option for many borrowers.
But it’s also a risky move for many.
Borrowers with low credit scores or high levels of student debt often have trouble paying back loans because they don’t have the money to pay down the mortgage, said David Mancuso, a bankruptcy attorney in Seattle.
Some homeowners have already been hit by a mortgage refinancing scandal.
In 2013, a man from Minnesota sued the bank he was refinancing for $7.5 million.
The man, Robert Pender, was charged with mail fraud, wire fraud and theft.
In the suit, the man said he refinanced his home in 2013 to pay back student loans, but it was too late because the loan balance had increased.
The lawsuit was settled with the bank for $5 million in damages.
Pender was arrested last year and convicted on mail fraud and wire fraud charges.
The federal court ruling was part of a broader case involving another former student refinancing scam, in which he was accused of stealing from his father.