The U.S. Department of Education announced a final extension on the Biden student loan payment pause. The forbearance period will now end on January 31, 2022, instead of September 30, 2021.
This student loan repayment extension aims to grant financial relief to borrowers who remain struggling due to the global pandemic. This financial relief has been in effect since COVID-19’s onset in March 2020. The forbearance period helped borrowers focus on covering essential expenses without worrying about their student loans accruing interest.
Education Secretary Miguel A. Cardona stated that a final extension would help borrowers transition smoothly into repayment. Borrowers must utilize the remaining forbearance period to plan for repayment, as it will indeed resume in February 2022.
Consider the following strategies to prepare for repayment.
Rehabilitate Your Loans
You can use the Department of Education’s rehabilitation program to get current on your defaulted loans. The rehabilitation program requires nine consecutive on-time payments and counts the payments you made during the forbearance period.
With the payment freeze extending for six more months, you have more chances of getting out of defaulted loans while interest rates are zero. You also have protection from garnishment if you have any defaulted loans during the payment freeze.
Consider speaking with your servicer about the rehabilitation program if you are not in the process.
Lower Your Overall Debt
You can continue making regular payments on your federal student loans while the pay freeze is in effect. By doing so, you would be paying off your principal balance since interest rates are zero during the forbearance period. Thus, you could lower your overall student debt once repayment resumes.
Note that continuing to pay your student loans while the payment freeze is effective may affect certain federal student loan benefits. The money you use to continue paying off student loans may reduce the amount you may receive from public service loan forgiveness.
Consider using this extension to chip away at your principal balance and potentially pay smaller amounts once interest starts accruing again after January 2022.
Continue Not Paying Student Loans
You can still take advantage of the student loan pause by paying off any loans or bills with higher priorities. Your student loans are essentially hibernating during the forbearance period. No interest rates are accrued during the 16 months that the pay freeze has been in effect. Your debt should not be any higher than when the repayment pause began last year.
As the Biden Administration extends the student loan payment and interest freeze for another six months, borrowers get a chance to transition into repayment smoothly. This student loan repayment extension comes after Democratic pressure calling for more time before resuming payments.
The Department of Education stated that this extension is final. Consider preparing for student loan repayment on February 1, 2022. One way to prepare is by making regular payments to lower your overall debt once repayment resumes.
Still, you can take advantage of the payment freeze by paying off higher priority bills. You can expect to make the same payments on student loans before the forbearance period began last March 2020 without any accrued interest.