The student loan payment pause introduced in 2020 provided a much-needed relief for many borrowers during the tumultuous times of the pandemic. But with federal student loan payments set to restart this fall, millions of borrowers find themselves on the brink of a big shift in their monthly budgets. With a little preparation, you can be as ready as possible when the federal student loan payments resume later this year.
Interest began accruing on your federal student loans on September 1, 2023, and your first payments will be due in October. You’ll see your first bill in either September or October of 2023. Loan servicers are required to send payment information out to borrowers at least 21 days before your payment due date.
Follow these steps to get yourself ready for your federal student loan payments to restart:
1. Find out who your student loan servicer is.
Your servicer is the company that manages your student loan, provides you with information about your loan, and processes your student loan payments. A lot of servicer changes took place during the pandemic, with up to 65% of borrowers having switched servicers during that time. If you aren’t sure who your servicer is, the U.S. Department of Education’s Student Loans website can help you find out, or U.S. Bank clients can find the information on Payitoff.
2. Make sure your contact info and auto-debit preferences are up to date.
Your servicer will be in touch with you with details about your payments, but they can’t reach you as easily if they’ve got out-of-date phone numbers, email addresses, and mailing addresses on file for you. So be sure to update your contact info in your profile on your loan servicer’s website, as well as on your StudientAid.gov account. While you’re updating your contact info, you may also want to confirm that your auto-debit preferences are up to date with your servicer, so your payments get deducted from the correct bank account.
3. Consider whether applying for an Income-Driven Repayment Plan is a fit for you.
There are multiple Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) plans on federal student loans that are available through the U.S. Department of Education. These plans may help to make your payments more affordable, and they take into account factors like your income and family size. An estimator on StudentAid.gov or Payitoff can help you navigate the different options.
4. Make sure your new loan payment fits into your monthly budget.
Set aside some time to understand your student loan's interest rate, principal amount, and type. This knowledge can help to guide your repayment strategies. A debt management tool like Payitoff, available for U.S. Bank clients, can help you find the best strategy for you – this may include considering different types of repayment plans or consolidating your loans.
Keep in mind that your monthly budget must now accommodate these resumed payments, so take a look at your budget and decide whether you need to make any adjustments. This could mean changing your student loan repayment plan, cutting back on non-essential expenses or finding ways to increase your income.
As you’re looking at your budget, see if you can also factor in a monthly contribution to a savings account. Even a small recurring deposit can add up over time and can go a long way to help build up a savings balance that you can tap into in the future.
Though student loan affordability continues to be a hot topic, and additional plans and programs may roll out in the future aimed at helping more student loan borrowers be more able to afford their loan payments, it’s clear that borrowers will be expected to resume their payments this fall. Following the steps outlined here can help to make sure you’re as ready as you can be for this fall’s reinstatement of payments.