Student Loan Payment Pause Extended Through January 2022!
The Department of Education has extended student loan forbearance (a pause on the requirement to make payments on your federal student loans) through January 31, 2022. Federal student loan borrowers do not have to make payments until next February. Monthly payments for most federal student loans have been on pause since last March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
No interest will be added to what you owe during this forbearance period, and non-payments will count toward the number of payments required under an income-driven repayment plan, a loan rehabilitation agreement, or the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.
NOTE: The Department of Education’s announcement noted that this will be the final extension of the forbearance period, but we will update this page if anything changes. All information is current as of 08/12/2021*
February will be here before you know it! This year has been financially tough on many people, but the good news is that options exist to make your student loan payments more affordable. Income-driven repayment plans are based on your income and your family size. If you are not making much money – and especially if you have lost your job or experienced a decrease in income during the pandemic – you can even lower your payments to ZERO.
Regardless of your situation, now is the right time to review your finances and reevaluate your payment plan – do this as soon as you can. Log back into your accounts, look at your monthly bill, and see if income-driven repayment is right for you.
You can log into the Department of Education (www.studentaid.gov) using your Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID. This is a username and password that is unique to each borrower. Not sure if you have an FSA ID? If you haven’t logged into the Department of Education’s website since May 2015, you probably don’t have an FSA ID. But don’t worry – you can easily create one. And if you forgot your username or password, don’t worry – there are options to recover your account information – on most log-in pages, look for links that say something like “Forgot My Username” or “Forgot My Password”.
Unfortunately, private student loans don’t qualify for the Department of Education’s forbearance program. However, many private lenders are offering disaster or emergency forbearance. Typically, that means a short-term pause on payments that won’t count toward any existing forbearance limits. Interest will still accrue during all private loan forbearance periods. If you’re having trouble making payments, don’t wait – reach out to your lender today. Here is a list of relief available from many private lenders.
Payments are automatically suspended for all borrowers, including those who were more than 31 days delinquent prior to March 13, 2020, or became more than 31 days delinquent soon thereafter. That means the loans are in forbearance and won’t default. Default on federal loans happens when a payment is 270 days past due, sending your loan to collections and exposing you to damaged credit, garnished wages and seized tax refunds.
For those with federal student loans already in default, all collection activities are suspended through Jan. 31, 2022. You can get a refund for any forced student loan payments made since March 13, 2020 – if you believe you have had wages wrongly garnished or other attempts made to collect on student debt since March, contact Bay Area Legal Aid. If your tax refund was seized before March 13, 2020, it will not be returned.
For borrowers who were already in a loan rehabilitation agreement (in order to get out of default), each month of the forbearance period (through January 2022) will count toward the nine months needed for rehabilitation. Are you worried you won’t be able to afford the monthly payment proposed in the loan rehabilitation agreement after the payment suspension ends? Request an alternative monthly payment by filling out the Loan Rehabilitation Income and Expense form. This request may result in a lower monthly payment.
The Department of Education stated that this will be the final extension of the forbearance period. Whether President Biden will cancel any federal student debt through Executive Order remains uncertain. Many Democrats in Congress have pushed for as much as $50,000 in loan forgiveness/cancellation, but the President remains uncertain. You can read more here about what’s happening with President Biden’s student loan plans.
Talking to a financial coach is a great place to start. Our Smart Money Coaching program provides free, confidential, one-on-one financial guidance – including help with student loan repayment. The program is available to anyone living, working or receiving services in San Francisco, regardless of citizenship status. Our coaches are fluent in Spanish, Cantonese and Mandarin, with additional translation services as requested.
Millions of Americans are struggling to repay student loan debt. The National Consumer Law Center’s Student Loan Borrower Assistance Project is a resource for borrowers, their families, and advocates representing student loan borrowers.
For more information about student loan debt problems, including default, income-driven repayment, disability discharge, and other issues, visit one of our Free Consumer Rights Legal Clinics.