October marks the restart of federal student loan payments for millions of Americans. There was a payment pause over the last three years because of the coronavirus pandemic.
What you need to do
If you have not paid your student loans in three years, you don’t have to worry. You can also expect to see some changes.
Start by going into your StudentAid.gov account to see who your loan servicer is, according to The Associated Press. You may notice that the loan servicer is different now than at the start of the pandemic in 2020. That is because loan servicers changed during that time, said Amy Czulada, the Student Borrower Protection Center outreach and advocacy manager.
Next, get logged into your loan servicer. Once you are logged in, you can see your student loan balance, your monthly payment amount and your interest rate. Czulada recommended, according to the AP, that you check what student loan you have because you may qualify for income-driven repayment plans.
These repayment plans are through programs from the federal government, states and private sector, according to The Washington Post. These programs can help get rid of some of the debt.
Then you will want to make sure your personal information is up to date, the AP reported.
The administration is reportedly offering a 12-month grace period if you are in a spot where you cannot make payments now, according to the Post. President Biden announced the grace period over the summer to help people who are struggling, the AP reported. If you don’t make payments within the first 12 months, you won’t be at risk for default and your credit score will not be impacted
However, interest will continue to accrue whether you pay or not, according to the AP.
You can manage your loan through the loan-simulator tool on StudentAid.gov that can help you find a plan that works for you. It can also help you determine your monthly payments under each plan and your long-term costs, the AP said.
An income-driven repayment plan is one of the plans where you can set your student loan payment monthly based on what your income is and the size of your family. Biden announced the SAVE plan last year, which is a new income-driven repayment plan where interest will not pile up as long as you make regular payments, the AP said.
The Biden administration hoped to make student loan payment transition smoother by forgiving up to $20,000 in student debt, CNBC reported. That transition plan was blocked over the summer by the Supreme Court.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found that many student loan borrowers during the pandemic have gotten into more debt, CNBC reported.
“More than 1 in 13 borrowers are currently behind on their other payment obligations,” the CFPB said, according to CNBC.