Amy Miller, AFC®
The student loan payment pause ended on August 30, 2023, and repayment is set to begin again next month for many borrowers. For September, we’ve been reviewing what borrowers need to know about the new plan to cancel $39 Billion for 804,000 borrowers that was recently announced by the Biden Administration. During the month, we’ve looked at Income-Driven Repayment Plans, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program, and the Fresh Start Program. To end, we’ll discuss returning to repayment and how borrowers can prepare.
What Borrowers Need to Know & Do
It’s important that borrowers first take the necessary steps to ensure their student loans are in order and they are ready to start repayment.
- Update personal contact information at studentaid.gov as well with the loan servicer (servicer information can also be found here.)
- Consider requesting a refund for payments made after March 13, 2020, when the payment pause began. This could be useful for borrowers seeking PSLF since payments that were paused for the past three years will now count toward forgiveness.
- Ensure Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) plans have been certified for the year. IDRs must be certified yearly so that servicers have the most current information to calculate monthly payments. Failing to certify annually will result in student loans being converted to the “standard” repayment plan with higher payments. Verbal IDR recertifications are still being accepted over the phone. Get more information on recertification here.
- All previously set automatic payments were stopped during the pause and will not automatically restart. Borrowers will need to contact their servicers to get back on an automatic payment plan.
On-Ramp to Repayment
To ease the burden of returning to payment of student loans, the U.S. Department of Education has set up measures to assist and protect borrowers who may be struggling to resume paying. The On-Ramp program will begin October 1, 2023, and will run until September 30, 2024, and will not penalize borrowers who are unable to pay. During this timeframe, student loans won’t fall into delinquency or default if payments are missed and won’t be reported to the credit bureaus negatively or sent to debt collection agencies.
However, interest will accumulate during the year and can increase the total amount owed. Any missed payments will be due after the on-ramp program ends on September 30, 2024. Missed payments during this timeframe will not count toward loan forgiveness under an IDR or PSLF.
Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE) Repayment Plan
The Biden Administration has also announced a new repayment plan, SAVE. This is a program that is meant to make payments much more affordable, especially for those with only undergraduate loans. The program also stops interest from accruing and provides cancellation of debt after 10 years of repayment for those who borrowed less than $12,000, with a sliding scale for those who borrowed more.
If already enrolled in an IDR plan, you’ll be automatically enrolled in the SAVE plan. If not, borrowers can contact their server to be placed in the plan.
Important Student Loan Takeaways from the Month:
- Determine what type of loans you have by logging on to studentaid.gov. This will help determine what cancellation programs are available
- Consolidate before December 31, 2023. There are many benefits to consolidating commercially held loans, especially if seeking PSLF
- Complete PSLF forms if seeking public service loan forgiveness
- If in default, take action to participate in the Fresh Start program
- Beware of scams. The many changes happening with student loans have spurred new student loan fraud and scams. Take additional steps to ensure information about programs is coming from a reliable source. Get tips on avoiding student loan scams here.
AMBA and its member banks offer support to our Nation’s Service Members and Veterans by offering services to help them achieve greater financial independence, resiliency, and literacy. Search our membership directory to find an AMBA member bank near you.