Boston, Dec. 16, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Millions of Americans have benefited from the March 2020 pause of repayment and interest accrual on federal student loans. However, the COVID-19 emergency relief will end on January 31, 2022, and the U.S. Department of Education will start collecting payments again.
MEFA is advising federal student loan borrowers to prepare now for resuming their monthly payments early next year.
“As the Massachusetts authority on education financing, part of MEFA’s mission is to provide consumers with information needed for financial success,” said Jonathan Hughes, host of the MEFA Podcast. “As part of that mission, it’s important to ensure that Federal Student Loan borrowers are aware of how to prepare for the end of the federal student loan forbearance. Though MEFA offers a private loan product, we continue to communicate with federal loan borrowers about preparing for repayment, and we also encourage anyone with a federal student loan to visit the Federal Student Aid dedicated site at StudentAid.gov/coronavirus.”
In a recent episode of the MEFA Podcast, Hughes discussed how borrowers should prepare for repayment to resume with guest Betsy Mayotte, President and Founder of The Institute of Student Loan Advisors (TISLA). While the federal student loan forbearance benefited millions of Americans, it also created challenges for both borrowers and loan servicing companies, said Mayotte, whose non-profit offers free student loan advice and dispute resolution services.
“We’ve taken people that have been in the habit of making a payment out of the habit for almost two years. So, the longer that goes, the harder it’s going to be to get back in that habit. The other thing the longer it goes, the more people move, and maybe they don’t remember to update their contact information with their loan holder,” said Mayotte.
Here are four steps borrowers can take now to resume making on-time, monthly loan payments:
Step 1: Log in to the Federal Student Aid website to view information about your loans and loan servicer
Your loan servicer is the company in charge of collecting the repayment of your Federal Direct Student Loan. The United States Department of Education assigns each student to a loan servicer once the student’s loan funds have been disbursed. If you don’t know who your loan servicer is or how to contact them, log in to the Federal Student Aid website or call 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243). There may be longer than usual wait times as repayment resumes for millions of borrowers.
Step 2: Update your contact information.
Double check that the Department of Education and/or your loan servicer have up-to-date contact information so they can reach you. Federal loan servicers need updated contact information, so they are able to notify borrowers of any changes to their account and can provide important notices. Federal loan servicers have already started sending letters and emails with information and reminders about the end of the forbearance on January 31, 2022.
Another important reason to ensure your contact information is up to date – three federal student loan servicers are ending their agreement with the U.S. Department of Education. About 16 million borrowers will be placed with a new loan servicer and will receive notices from their new servicer by mail and email.
Borrowers may be able to update their contact information online at their loan servicer’s website or through their profile on StudentAid.gov.
Step 3: Open & Read Your Mail
Be sure to open and read your mail; it’s not all junk! Be sure to read everything sent by your student loan servicer. These important documents will tell you when your next payment is due and may also provide information about income-driven repayment plans, how to apply, requesting deferment. If your loan servicer has changed, both your previous and new loan servicers will contact you by mail with instructions on what to do.
For additional information, visit the following:
Step 4: Can You Afford the Monthly Payment?
Finally, but arguably most importantly – as soon as you are able, check your budget to see that you can afford your upcoming monthly payment. If not, borrowers should be in contact with their loan servicer as soon as possible to discuss options available, and to evaluate possible options for flexible repayment plans based on current income or additional forbearance.
Borrowers can also visit studentaid.gov and use the Loan Simulator tool to find a monthly payment plan that fits their needs. Aim to file the needed paperwork as soon as possible to avoid the rush of inquiries loans servicers may receive once repayment resumes.
Remember, your servicer may have options for flexible repayment plans based on current income or additional forbearance. Borrowers should call their loan servicer to discuss their options and provide financial and family information to demonstrate what they can afford to pay.
About MEFA Loans
Not to be confused with a Federal Student Loan, MEFA offers private student loan products with five repayment options, no origination fee, application fee, or prepayment penalty, and fixed interest rates. MEFA’s undergraduate student loans are available to creditworthy families across the country for use at any eligible non-profit college or university in the United States.
MEFA is a not-for-profit state authority, not reliant on state or federal appropriations, established under Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 15C. MEFA’s mission, since its founding in 1982, has been to help Massachusetts students and families access and afford higher education and reach financial goals through education programs, tax-advantaged savings plans, low-cost loans, and expert guidance. All of MEFA’s work aligns with the ever-present goal to support the independence, growth, and success of Massachusetts students and families. Visit mefa.org to learn more or follow MEFA on Twitter @mefatweets, Facebook at mefaMA, LinkedIn and Instagram.
CONTACT: Lisa Rooney MEFA (617) 224-4838 [email protected]