Student Loan Debt: With Federal Student Loan Payments Set To Resume Soon, Here’s How To Get Prepared
Federal student loan borrowers have about a month to prepare for the resumption of payments following a payment pause of more than two years that began during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unless U.S. lawmakers step in to extend the pause yet again, it will end on Aug. 31, 2022, and payments will resume a day later.
If you have a federal student loan, now is the time to start preparing to pay it again. Federal Student Aid, an office of the U.S. Department of Education, offers the following suggestions to help you get ready.
- Update your contact information. Make sure your contact info is current and accurate both on your loan servicer’s website and in your StudentAid.gov profile. Wrong contact information could cause you to miss important updates.
- Get info about your next payment. When the payment moratorium ends, your loan servicer(s) will send you a billing statement or other notice. This notice should include your payment due date, upcoming interest and payment amount. The payment will be due no sooner than 21 days after your servicer sends the billing statement. To find out your upcoming payment amount, log in to your loan servicer’s website. If your servicer doesn’t provide this info online, you call or email your servicer.
- Review your repayment plan. Take the time to ensure that your repayment plan still is a good fit. COVID-19 might have caused a change in your financial situation. If so, you might want to consider changing your repayment plan. Federal Student Aid offers a Loan Simulator that lets you explore different options.
- Explore ways to lower your monthly payment. Once you know all of your repayment options, you might decide to apply for one that can lower your payment and give you a little more financial breathing room. For example, the DOE offers an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan based on how much money you earn. An IDR plan could lead to a minimal or even no payment.
- If needed, contact your loan servicer to ask for short-term relief. If you are not financially prepared to resume payments, you might be able to get a temporary pause or a lower payment from your servicer. What you don’t want to do is miss payments. Doing so could send your loan into default, ding your credit score and even lead to garnished tax returns and paychecks.
Beyond these steps, you should also start adjusting your budget to make room for the resumption of student loan payments. When the federal student loan moratorium went into effect, many student borrowers redirected that money to something else, according to MainStreet Financial Planning.
Now is the time to review your budget and adjust your expenses or savings so you can make your payments in full and on time.
More From GOBankingRates