As a result of the COVID CARES Act, federal student loan payments have been paused since March 2020. This pause ends in October 2023, which means that students and/or parents who have borrowed a Federal Direct Subsidized Loan, Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan, and/or Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan will be required to start making payments. The sections below provide helpful resources to support your successful transition into student loan repayment.
How to Begin Your Loan Repayment
- Log in to studentaid.gov with your FSA ID. Your FSA ID (the same one you used to complete your FAFSA) will include a username and password. Once logged in, update your personal information and confirm your student loan servicer.
- Confirm your student loan servicer. Your servicer may vary depending on the type of loan you have. If you don’t know who your servicer is, log on to studentaid.gov and visit the “My Loan Servicers” section of your dashboard.
- Log in to your servicer account and update your contact information. Create an account or log in to your existing account on the servicer’s website. Review and update your personal contact information, including your email and mailing address, so your servicer can reach you.
- Reauthorize or select auto debit for monthly payments. If you were previously signed up for automatic debit before the payment pause began, you must reauthorize or select automatic debit through your loan servicer account to allow your monthly payments to be automatically withdrawn from your bank account.
- Review your payment due date and amount. Make note of your monthly payment amount and the due date of your first payment on your loan servicer account and update any changed banking information.
Tips to Prepare for Student Loan Repayment
- Start early and be ready. Be proactive if you anticipate encountering any troubles as repayment begins, as there are consequences to being unprepared.
- Review your personal budget. Along with confirming your payment due date and amount, review your budget to ensure you are able to make your monthly payments. You can find resources to help you create, manage, and maintain your budget on studentaid.gov.
- Be patient and remain diligent. With millions of borrowers transitioning into repayment simultaneously, loan servicers may be overwhelmed with a high volume of inquiries. While you may reach your servicer via phone, you may find the information you’re looking for on their website, via email, or using a live chat feature.
- Keep documentation. Keep good documentation of your financial aid and loan servicer records and communications, such as forms, research, who you spoke to, and detailed notes of what you discussed.
- Stay alert to avoid scams. Your student loan servicer assists you for free; you should never pay an outside entity to help you with your student loans. While you may call your loan servicer, they will always initiate communications with you via email. Unless you initiate contact, never share personal information over the phone.
How to Pick the Right Student Loan Repayment Plan
- Log in to your student loan servicer account. The contact information your servicer has may need to be updated. Your servicer must have accurate contact information to reach you with pertinent updates. You should also review your outstanding balance and accrued interest.
- Decide whether you need to change plans. If the plan you were in prior to the repayment pause no longer aligns with your repayment strategy, you may want to consider switching to a different plan.
- Research repayment options and confirm the best plan for you. The standard repayment plan is solely based on the amount you borrowed, and that amount (plus interest) determines your monthly payment. Others, known as income-driven repayment (IDR) plans, take your income into account. In many cases, an IDR plan will provide you with a lower monthly payment than the standard, fixed repayment plan.
- Log in to your servicer portal or studentaid.gov to select your desired plan. If you decide to change your plan to a non-IDR plan, log on to your loan servicer’s website to initiate the change. If you would like to apply for an IDR plan, you can do so via studentaid.gov. Keep in mind that if you select an IDR plan, you may be asked for additional information to certify your income and family size. If you need further support in selecting a plan or have questions, contact your loan servicer.
Helpful Resources to Prepare for Student Loan Repayment
- Loan Forgiveness Various loan forgiveness programs are available for borrowers who meet certain criteria and circumstances.
- The Office of Federal Student Aid’s (FSA) “Repaying Your Loans” Booklet -This resource outlines information related to the repayment of federal Direct Loans, Perkins Loans, and FFEL loans.
- One-time Federal Student Loan Debt Relief Learn more about the Biden Administration’s Debt Relief program that will provide relief of up to $20,000 to borrowers if they meet certain criteria, and view timely updates to the program.
- Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) Plans Learn more about the four available IDR plans that determine your monthly student loan payment based on your income and family size.
- Fresh Start This initiative aims to assist delinquent and defaulted borrowers as they enter back into repayment in good standing.
- Student Loan Deferment and Forbearance Deferment and forbearance are options that allow borrowers in short-term financial distress to temporarily stop making payments.
- Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) The PSLF program is for borrowers working in public service who are employed by qualifying employers and meet the criteria to receive forgiveness.
Student Loan Delinquency and Default Federal student loans become delinquent when a borrower misses a payment. A loan may go into default if the borrower does not make a payment in a certain amount of time. FSA outlines delinquency/default, and actions borrowers can take if they believe their loans were mistakenly put in default.