5 things student borrowers should do right now
These are difficult times for millions of student borrowers. While the current student loan suspension has suspended payments and interest on most (but not all) federal student loans for more than two years, borrowers are grappling with unprecedented confusion and uncertainty.
Over the past year, there have been major loan servicing shifts, sweeping changes to student loan forgiveness and relief programs (many of which are temporary), and mixed messages from senior Biden administration officials on what to expect in the coming months. At the same time, soaring inflation and rising prices are putting financial pressure on many households, leaving little room for student loan repayments.
It’s a tough environment. But here’s what student borrowers should be doing right now.
Evaluate Student Loan Forgiveness Opportunities
The Biden administration has begun implementing several “targeted” student loan relief initiatives. Through these actions, the Department of Education has relaxed requirements, expanded eligibility, or streamlined processing for several existing student loan forgiveness programs, including civil service loan forgiveness, repayment based on income and the borrower’s defense against repayment.
But many of these initiatives are temporary, and these opportunities for student loan forgiveness could disappear in a few months. Borrowers should take the time to assess their potential eligibility and, if action is needed, begin the application process. Here are some of the most prominent student loan forgiveness initiatives:
- PSLF Limited Waiver – this initiative temporarily extends eligibility for student loan forgiveness under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. The waiver is due to end on October 31, 2022.
- IDR adjustment – this initiative temporarily allows many past loan periods, including certain deferment and forbearance periods, to count towards IDR loan cancellation. To be eligible, some borrowers may need to take action before the end of 2022.
- Borrower Defense Until Repayment – this program provides federal student loan forgiveness for borrowers who are defrauded or misled by their school. The administration has launched automatic student loan forgiveness for former students of Corinthian colleges and proposed a broad settlement in a class action lawsuit that could benefit borrowers who attended dozens of other institutions. But borrowers may need to act before this fall to qualify.
- Total and Permanent Disability Discharge (TPD) – this program can discharge federal student loan debt for borrowers who are unable to maintain substantial gainful employment due to a medical condition. The Biden administration has temporarily relaxed post-discharge monitoring requirements for approved applications.
Check your student loan officer
While millions of federal borrowers have not had to make payments since March 2020 given the student loan payment pause, much has changed within the federal student loan system. Several major student loan servicers have withdrawn or are in the process of withdrawing from the Department of Education’s federal student aid system, resulting in the transfer of more than 10 million borrowers to new loan servicers. loans.
There have been two particularly large transfers in the servicing of student loans over the past year. Navient, one of the Department of Education’s leading loan service providers, recently transferred all government-held federal student loan accounts to Aidvantage. And FedLoan Servicing, another major contractor, has transferred millions of accounts to various other loan servicers, including EdFinancial and MOHELA, which will take over the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF). These transfers are underway, but should be completed by the fall.
Borrowers can verify who their federal student loan officer is by accessing their account through the Department of Education’s loan portal at StudentAid.gov. If you’ve been transferred to a new loan manager, also be sure to create an online account for the most up-to-date information and correspondence regarding your student loans.
Update your contact information with your student loan officer
A lot of people have changed since 2020. Now is a good time to make sure your contact details are up to date with the Department of Education and your student loan officer – you don’t want to miss any important repayment correspondence student loan or new opportunities for student loan forgiveness. And most student loan agreements impose a positive legal obligation on the borrower to always keep their contact information up to date.
Make sure the phone number, mailing address, and email address on file with your loan holder are correct and up-to-date.
Certify your employment for Public Service Loan Exemption (PSLF)
Borrowers on track for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) — a student loan forgiveness program for borrowers working for nonprofits or government organizations — cannot get credit for their payments only if they submit PSLF employment certification forms. And borrowers only get credit up to the date of their most recent certificate of employment. This means that borrowers must periodically submit a new PSLF Employment Certification Form for an up-to-date tally of eligible PSLF payments.
Now is a good time for borrowers on track to have the PSLF certify their employment, given that the ongoing Covid-related payment pause may count towards the PSLF, as well as the imminent expiration of the PSLF waiver limited October 31, 2022. You can begin the process through the Department of Education’s PSLF Help Tool.
Get ready for the student loan break until the end
The ongoing student loan pause, which has suspended most federal student loan payments and interest, is set to end Aug. 31. Borrower advocates have urged the Biden administration to extend the pause again. But so far, Biden administration officials have not publicly announced a decision.
Now is a good time to evaluate your repayment plan options. Borrowers can perform calculations using the Ministry of Education’s repayment simulator. Notably, borrowers who followed an income-contingent repayment plan will not have to recertify their income until March 2023 at the earliest, according to the Department of Education.
Further Reading on Student Loans
The Biden administration approved $26 billion in student loan forgiveness, but borrowers face growing uncertainty
Education Department urges borrowers to apply for student loan forgiveness before October deadline
3 Key Student Loan Forgiveness Opportunities Could End Soon – Here’s How to Apply
If You’ve Been To These Schools, You May Qualify For Student Loan Forgiveness: Here’s What To Do