Payments on federal student loans are expected to resume on January 1, 2023. A pause on student loan payments has been in place since March 2000, when the CARES Act was passed by Congress and was extended in August 2022, for what was said to be the final time, to end on December 31, 2022. This measure put a moratorium on student loan payments and interest for all federally held student loans including:
Direct federal student loans
Federal Family Education Loan program loans held by the Department of Education, aka FFEL
Federal Perkins Loans held by the Department of Education
Defaulted FFEL loans not held by the Department of Education
Defaulted Health Education Assistance loans, aka HEAL
If your student loans were eligible, payments and interest were automatically paused on March 13, 2020. If you're not sure whether your loan payments are paused or not, contact your loan servicer.
Private student loan debt was not covered under these protections, but private lenders may offer a hardship relief program or temporary student loan forbearance.
Under the new student loan forgiveness initiative, millions of federal student loan borrowers will be eligible for $10,000 in loan forgiveness, or up to $20,000 if they received Pell Grants. To qualify, borrowers must earn under $125,000 per year in income, or $250,000 if they are married. The Biden administration has indicated that while some relief will be provided automatically, most borrowers will have to submit an application, which is now available online.
The government is advising borrowers to apply by mid-November to receive relief before the student loan payment pause expires on Dec. 31, 2022. For those who don’t qualify, payments will resume as scheduled.
It may seem overwhelming to think about making payments after such a long time, but this post is here to help make the process as smooth as possible. The Department of Education has said that borrowers can expect information and resources about resuming payments leading up to December 31, 2022 and will receive a billing statement at least 21 days before the first payment is due.
Make sure your contact information is up to date: Contact your loan provider and update your address, email and phone number so that you can be reached with any upcoming information or communications regarding your loan.
Check your payment details: Confirm your payment amount and due date. You want to start repayment on the right foot. It may be a good idea to set up automated payments so that you don’t fall behind accidentally.
If you are unable to make your payments as scheduled, contact your loan provider as soon as possible to see what options are available. You may want to look into income driven repayment plans. Under these plans, your monthly payments will generally be limited to 10% to 20% of your discretionary income, depending on the plan. Keep in mind that some of the plans cap your payment amount while others don’t.
There are some situations where you can have your federal student loans forgiven, cancelled or discharged. If you think you may qualify, you should contact your loan service provider immediately. Additionally, you can see what repayment options may be available to you at Studentaid.gov.
No matter your situation, if you have questions, start with your loan servicer. They will be the best resource for explaining any options you may have regarding your student loan. Taking a proactive approach to understanding your repayment situation will keep you informed and in the best position to make decisions for your long-term financial health.