By Charlestien Harris
This pandemic has caused a lot of uncertainty when it comes to finances. One question that has been coming to the forefront is what is going to happen with student loans? If you are a current or past student, you will want to know how to handle your student loans and keep them current through the duration of this pandemic.
If you have federally-held student loans, you are currently not required to make any repayment on them because the government is offering automatic interest-free forbearance. With the new Biden Administration, the most recent extension suspends requirements to pay principal and interest on federally-held student loans through September 30, 2021. If no other action is taken, 42 million borrowers will have to resume their payments at that time.
The new regulation allows for the suspension of federal student loan payments, reduces interest rates on federal student loans to 0%, and pauses federal student loan debt collection and garnishment on defaulted student loans. One fact that should be noted is that the student loan relief provisions only apply to government-held student loans, which does not include commercially-held federal loans, Perkins loans, or private loans.
Another question that is asked is where do I go to find out if my loan payments have been temporarily suspended? To find out if your Direct Loan payments have been suspended, log in to www.studentaid.gov with your username and password (FSA ID) to view your loan details. Under the Loan Breakdown section of the page you can expand your loan details and review your loan status to see whether your loans are shown as being in forbearance. If you have any additional questions about your loan status, you should contact your loan servicer.
Some of you may be working toward student loan forgiveness and want to know how does suspending payments affect student loan forgiveness programs, such as Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)? According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), you will still be able to make progress toward Public Service Loan Forgiveness or other federal forgiveness programs even as you take advantage of the suspension of payments. The programs should consider it as if you kept up your repayment, but I would check the guidelines to make sure you are in compliance.
One question you may not have thought about is are student loan scams still a danger during the pandemic? The answer is YES! Scams usually occur in the most difficult times as it is when a person is most vulnerable emotionally and financially. If you get a phone call or see an ad promising student loan relief in exchange for a fee, you could be dealing with a student loan scam. Remember that you should never have to pay anything to put your loans into forbearance. Similarly, your lender is unlikely to contact you to offer forbearance or deferment options — it’s up to you to reach out to your lender.
During these tough times, beware of any predatory loan companies that want to charge you money or are making promises that seem too good to be true. You may have other questions about your student loans and below are some legitimate websites to search for answers:
You can contact me with any questions or concerns via email at Charlestien.firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 662-624-5776. Until next week, stay financially fit!