Following the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. Department of Education granted forbearance on all federal student loans until September 30, 2021. For most borrowers, this payment pause offered much-needed relief, which was crucial to their financial well-being.
As of now, payments on federal student loans will resume on October 1, 2021. This is when the forbearance ends and you’ll will have to start making your remaining federal student loan repayments. Student Debt Crisis, an advocacy group, surveyed over 23,000 student loan borrowers about their preparedness to resume loan repayments. Nine out of ten federal student loan borrowers said they weren’t ready to resume payments on October 1.
Are you among those borrowers who aren’t ready to resume payments when forbearance ends? If you are, here are three options you could explore to reduce your financial stress post September 30, 2021.
There are four different income-driven repayment (IDR) plans. Most federal student loans are eligible for at least one IDR plan. These plans base your monthly payments according to your income. If your income is below a certain amount, your monthly payment could go down to $0.
Income-driven repayment plans offer a few major benefits. Because the payments are set to a percentage of your income, they are always affordable. This frees up cash for other essentials while also minimizing the risk of delinquency and default. You can check the IDR plans and apply for the most appropriate on the Federal Student Aid website.
The ongoing forbearance was offered to all federal loan borrowers due to the widespread crisis caused by the pandemic. In addition, the federal government also offers two types of deferment programs that you can avail of.
Unemployment deferment temporarily pauses repayment of federal loans for up to 36 months. You may qualify if you’re currently receiving unemployment benefits of if you’re employed part-time while looking for full-time work.
Economic hardship deferment is especially meant for low-income individuals. It allows you to postpone repayments on federal student loans if you’re experiencing a severe financial crisis. This payment pauses gives you time to build your career and increase your income.
Interest rates have dropped considerably, making this a good time to refinance private student loans and save money. The current forbearance only applies to federal student loans. If you can get a lower rate on your private student loans, it’s a good idea to consider refinancing.
Don’t rush into refinancing federal student loans however. Right now they are in forbearance. What you choose after forbearance ends depends on your long term plans. If you’re pursuing forgiveness, an income-based repayment plan may be the best option for you. If you’re not, refinancing may be a good option for you to save money.
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