The Biden Administration announced that payments on federal student loans will resume on December 31, 2022.
The emergency forbearance which began in March of 2020 provided 42 million Americans holding student debt a pause from making payments or accruing interest while the country dealt with the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Student Debt Crisis Center found that 89% of full-time employed adults with outstanding student loans felt that they are not yet financially secure enough to resume making payments once the forbearance ends.
20% of borrowers also responded that they do not think that they are financially secure enough to keep current on their payments once the forbearance ends.
President Biden asked the Department of Justice and Department of Education to review his legal authority to clear student debt for all borrowers through an executive action, but there is no public indication when or if that will ever happen.
Because of this uncertainty, experts say that it is smart to prepare for when the forbearance ends. The following six suggestions will help you prepare.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Understand how the departure of Navient, Granite State, and FedLoan from the federal loan system will affect you
Keep your contact information with your loan servicer updated
Update your loan servicer about the bank you are using for automatic payments
Monitor your payments on a spreadsheet
If financially capable, continue making payments
Check if you are eligible for student loan forgiveness
Understand how the departure of Navient, Granite State, and FedLoan from the federal loan system will affect you. Several servicers announced their departure from the federal loan system in the second half of 2021. This change is estimated to affect more than 15 million borrowers. The Education Department announced stricter standards for federal loan servicers. These changes may encourage additional servicers to leave the federal student loan system and to look for an industry with fewer restrictions.
Keep your contact information with your loan servicer updated. Updates and notices will be sent in the coming weeks and months by your loan servicer regarding the expiration of the CARES Act, loan servicing transfers, new payment details, etc. These updates will also explain when your first payment is due, what your monthly payment is going to be, etc. Without current contact information on-file with your current or new servicer it will be impossible to receive these critical updates.
Update your loan servicer about the bank you are using for automatic payments. If you have arranged an automatic debit arrangement, it is likely that your loan servicer will ask you whether your payment information has changed. Even if they do not ask you first, take the initiative to ensure that it is up to date. If needed, contact your bank, and reauthorize your loan servicer on your account for automatic debit arrangements. If you have questions about your current servicer or repayment program, one of our case managers can help you obtain that information
Monitor your payments on a spreadsheet. Include balances, interest rates, and due dates. This will help you track your payments. While in forbearance, keep a part of your income as if you are still paying for your student debt. This way, it will provide you with a smooth transition once the payment for your student loan resumes. With the money that you can save, you may consider making a lump-sum payment to your servicer before the interest-free period expires or you may keep the cash you saved as an emergency fund. TitanPrep offers a client portal and data storage services that are specifically designed to hold your complete portfolio required to successfully apply for discharge at the end of your program.
If financially capable, continue making payments. Because of the CARES Act, the interest rate on federal loans is set at 0 percent, so any payments you make at this time of forbearance will apply directly toward the principal balance instead of interest charges. If you make payments prior to the resumption of the payment for student loans, you can reduce the interest that will accrue from your student loan afterwards.
Check if you are eligible for student loan forgiveness. Usually, forgiveness is linked with making payments for a set number of years or with working for a certain kind of employer or working in a public service job. One such program is Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). This program forgives the remaining balance on certain federal loans after a borrower makes 120 on-time payments towards a qualified income-driven repayment plan. There are also other programs for student loan forgiveness for which you may be eligible to apply.
With the possibility of Biden, Congress or the Department of Education totally forgiving all student loan debt appearing to be unlikely, borrowers need to prepare and plan for student loan payments to resume soon. The steps listed above will help you be in control and ready whether total discharge occurs or not.