April 11, 2022
The COVID-19 emergency relief for certain federal student loans suspends required payments and reduced the interest rate on student loans held by the federal government to 0.00%.
When your student loan payments resume — at your pre-COVID-19 interest rates — these four easy steps can help you make the best out of repaying your student loans.
1. Understand the different kinds of student loans and COVID-19 assistance.
You may have a mix of federal and private student loans. It's important to understand that not all student loans were eligible for COVID-19 assistance.
Federal Student Loans
If you attended college classes in 2010 or later and took out federal loans, your federal student loans are part of the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program. These loans, and a small number of other loans held by the federal government, automatically received COVID-19 emergency relief benefits from the government. This was initially granted in the spring of 2020. The biggest benefits for these loans were the automatic reduction of interest rates to 0.00% and suspension of required federal student loan payments during the assistance period.
If you attended college before 2010 using federal loans, you may have Direct Loans or non-government-owned federal loans in the Federal Family Education Loan Program. Most non-government-owned FFEL program loans did not qualify for COVID-19 emergency relief benefits, but your lender or servicer may have provided the option to place your student loans on forbearance to postpone payments temporarily if you were financially impacted by COVID-19.
Private Student Loans
Private student loans are offered by student loan lenders as well as banks and credit unions. These loans did not qualify for any federal student loan assistance, but many lenders have offered forbearance or other assistance options due to COVID-19 to assist their borrowers. Those benefits could be extended or could end earlier. Keep in contact with your loan servicer to know when you will need to start making private student loan payments again if you're not doing so currently.
If you suspended your payments using some assistance like a forbearance for private student loans or non-government-owned federal loans, you will be responsible for any interest that accrued during that time.
2. Confirm the servicer for your loans.
Your federal student loan servicer may have changed since you last made student loan payments.
A number of large student loan servicers for the federal government have terminated their contracts during the past year. Watch for any notifications that your loan servicer has or is changing. You can also verify the information about federal student loan servicers on the Federal Student Aid website.
Need help finding out who your loan servicer is? Check out the Know Your Student Loan Servicer article.
Because student loans can be confusing and are a popular news item, scammers try to target student loan borrowers. Always be wary of people or companies offering payment assistance for a fee. Your lender or servicer will not charge you for assistance or information.
3. Check the current rates and other details.
Use the information about your type of loan and your servicer to learn more about your student loans. It can be useful to make a list with the following information about each loan you have. Our student loan worksheet (PDF) can help you start building your list.
- Federal or private
- Are you currently making payments? (If not, when are they expected to begin?)
- Current balance (Principal and outstanding interest may be listed separately.)
- Remaining term (This may be presented as an anticipated last payment date or estimated number of remaining months in repayment.)
- Interest rate (fixed or variable)
- Monthly payment amount (and expected future increases or changes if you're on a special repayment plan like a graduated plan or Income-Based Repayment Plan)
- Servicer contact information
Collecting this information will give you an idea of where you stand financially and how much you can expect to pay each month when student loan payments resume. Do those loan payments and details make sense for your current financial situation?
4. Weigh your student loan repayment options.
You will likely start receiving bills in April, or before your current assistance ends, before your next student loan payment is due. If you were making automatic payments, be sure to double-check that those arrangements are still in place. If you pay by mail, keep in mind that the U.S. Postal Service has announced slower delivery times so you will want to make sure you put your payment in the mail a bit earlier than usual so that your servicer receives your payment on time.
If you're still struggling financially due to COVID-19's lingering impact on your health or job, contact your servicers or lenders as soon as possible and find out what assistance options remain available to you. Stay in contact with your student loan servicers to keep your account current, whether through assistance or different repayment options. Most private student loan lenders and servicers offer alternatives to their standard repayment plan, and most federal student loans are eligible for lower or zero-dollar repayment plans if your income or other circumstances qualify.
If you work in a public service field and have federal loans, whether they are Direct Loans or FFEL program loans, you may be eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness. The government has temporarily expanded the program for federal student loan borrowers meeting certain criteria. Learn more on the FSA website.
Should you consider student loan refinancing?
If you are continuing to make payments on your student loans or are beginning again when COVID-19 assistance ends, another option to consider is refinancing. Refinancing student loans is an easy process that can help you make the most of your financial situation.
ISL Education Lending offers student loan refinancing options that:
- Allow you to combine your student loans into a single new loan, making repayment easier if you have student loans with multiple lenders.
- Provide you the ability to pre-qualify with no impact to your credit score. This lets you see what rates you qualify for, different term options and estimated repayment amounts.
- Feature lower rates than you may be paying now or longer repayment terms if you need a lower monthly payment amount.
- Have no application, prepayment or late fees.
Learn more about our Reset Refinance Loan today and see if refinancing your student loans will benefit you. Pre-qualifying takes less than 60 seconds and any potential cosigners can pre-qualify too. If you apply with cosigners, you will have the option to release them from their loan obligations after certain conditions are met.
See Your Refinance Rate Today!