Federal student loan forbearance is ending Jan. 31. That means you’ll have to start paying on your federal student loans again in February.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos extended the forbearance deadline to Jan. 31. The relief effort was set to expire Dec. 31.
If you’re not ready to start paying on your loans, don’t freak out. There are options. Reckon talked to Student Loan Specialist Jessica Ferastoaru of Take Charge America, a nonprofit financial counseling organization.
Here are some answers to your questions about the pandemic federal student loan forbearance:
Is this only for federal loans?
Yes. The federal student loan forbearance passed in March and renewed again in August only applies to federal student loans and lending companies owned by the federal government.
Some private lenders also provided relief options. Check with your loan servicer to learn more about your relief options.
When will I have to make a payment?
Borrowers must begin making payments on Feb. 1. If you’re unsure when your payment is due, check with your loan servicer. They should be able to tell you an exact due date.
What if I can’t afford to pay as much as I did before the pandemic?
There are options for you. You may be able to get on an income-based repayment plan. For some plans, the payments can be as low as $0 (Yes, $0).
Contact your loan servicer to learn more about income-based repayment options.
I’m still unemployed. There’s no way I can make payments right now.
That’s OK. Your loan service provider may have some unemployment relief or income-based plans with payments as low as $0. Contact your loan servicer.
Your loan servicer may also be able to extend your forbearance or offer a deferment. Under both options, payments are suspended, though with deferment, interest on subsidized loans may be waived. Under forbearance, interest continues to accrue on all loans.
What if I’m already on an income-based repayment plan? Can I get my payments lower?
You may be able to lower your payments if you re-certify your income with your loan servicer. Contact your loan servicer to do this.
What if defaulted on my loans? What will happen after Feb. 1?
Good news! This provides you a chance to get your loans out of default. You can enroll in an income-based repayment plan if you can’t afford to make the full payments. You can also enroll in a loan rehabilitation program. After making consistent payments for a set time, your loans will then be considered out of default.
Will my automatic payments already resume?
Check with your loan servicer to ensure your automatic payments will resume, if you have paused them. You don’t want to miss a payment and end up accidentally delinquent.
What will Biden do?
In a recent press conference, President-elect Joe Biden said he has a plan to cancel the first $10,000 of student loan debt for those making less than $125,000 per year.