Prepare Yourself: Student Loan Payments Resuming Soon

If you are one of the nearly 43 million Americans with student loan debt, you should take steps to prepare for the resumption of repayments. The pause in student loan payments will end in May. While the Biden administration recently extended the pause, the government has announced that this will be the final extension, meaning that your payments should resume in May. Follow these tips to get ready for your payments to resume.

1. Verify Your Loan Servicer

You should verify which company is servicing your loan. Several of the major student loan servicers, including Navient, Granite State, and the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, announced that they will no longer be servicing federal student loans. If your loan was previously serviced by one of these providers, it will be transferred to a different servicer. You can find your loan servicer by logging into your profile on the website or by calling 1-800-433-3243. If you want your servicer to debit your payments from your account, make sure that you have enrolled in that option.

2. Check Your Repayment Plan

Many people have undergone major changes in their finances during the past two years. If your financial circumstances have changed, you might want to check your repayment plan options to see whether changing to a different one might be beneficial. There are multiple repayment plans available through the U.S. Department of Education. If you are currently enrolled in a standard repayment plan but have experienced a reduction in your income, you might want to consider switching to one of the income-driving repayment plan options. These repayment plans set your payments as a percentage of your income to make them more affordable.

3. Consider Consolidation

Consolidating your federal loans can also help to reduce your payments. Loan consolidation can reduce your payments by extending the repayment period to up to 30 years. Consolidation can also simplify repaying your student loans since you will only have one loan payment instead of having to submit payments to several loan servicers. However, making student loan payments over a longer period might also mean that you will end up paying more over time. Think about the advantages and disadvantages of loan consolidation before making your decision.

4. Make Sure Your Contact Information Is Updated

Make sure that your current address is correct on your profile so that your loan servicer knows how to contact you. When student loan payments resume in May, your servicer will mail a billing statement to your address. You will want to ensure that you receive this statement because your payment will be due shortly after you receive it.

5. Investigate Short-Term Relief Options if Needed

If you cannot afford to resume your student loan payments, you can contact your loan servicer to find out about short-term relief options. You might be eligible for a deferment or forbearance to temporarily suspend your payments past the student loan payments pause. However, keep in mind that forbearance will increase the total amount you will ultimately have to pay because interest will continue to accumulate during the forbearance period. If you are currently in default with your student loans, you might also want to contact your loan servicer to find out about your options for getting your loans out of default. When student loan payments resume, collection efforts will as well.

6. Watch For Potential Changes

It is a good idea to follow the news and watch for potential changes that might occur in the next few months. Some student loan activists and politicians have been pushing the Biden administration to cancel up to $50,000 in student loan debt for all borrowers. President Biden has indicated that his administration might be willing to cancel $10,000 in student loan debt, but he has not indicated a willingness to cancel $50,000 per borrower. If you are currently in default on your student loans, you might also watch for the government to potentially erase defaults. While nothing has been announced, the Department of Education has reportedly been considering erasing defaults. If that happens, you will have a fresh start with your student loans.

The pause in student loans has provided financial relief to millions of borrowers. However, your payments will resume in a few months, so you need to be prepared. Take the steps you need to get ready for your payments to begin again, and investigate any options you might have to lower your payments if you need ongoing relief.

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