Are you prepared to start making student loan payments again? Federal student loan payments are slated to resume in May 2022 after a two-year freeze. With only a few months left before payments resume, student loan borrowers should start planning ahead. A CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional can help you prepare your budget for when payments resume and avoid falling behind.
Here are some tips to help you get ready to resume student loan payments.
If you took advantage of the federal student loan payment suspension, chances are some things have changed.
- First, find out if your loan servicer is still the same. Some major student loan servicers, such as FedLoan Servicing, will no longer service loans and will transfer loans to a new servicer. Although the terms of your loan will remain the same, the contact information and where to send your payments will change.
- Next, once you have confirmed your servicer and updated your information, make sure to update your StudentAid.gov profile with any changes. If you use auto-debit and your bank account has changed, there is a chance you are no longer enrolled and may need to opt-in again.
- Lastly, confirm your upcoming payment amount. You’ll receive a billing statement at least 21 days before your payment is due. However, to get an estimate of what your payment will be, contact your servicer in advance.
Revisit Your Cash Flow
A CFP® professional can help you evaluate your options so that you are ready before payments resume. The first step will be to re-incorporate your student loan payments into your monthly budget. With the help of a CFP® professional, you can identify ways to save money, such as refinancing high interest debt and prioritizing your overall debt repayment strategy.
Evaluate Your Options
Figuring out the best repayment strategy for your circumstances can be cumbersome. A CFP® professional can help you decide whether to refinance or consolidate your student loans. They can also help you choose a payment plan that works for you. The federal government offers a Loan Simulator tool to help decide which repayment option is best for you. If your payment will be too high, one option is to apply for an income-driven repayment plan.
You can enroll in an income-driven repayment plan during the suspension. Your payments will remain paused and resume once the pause ends, so don’t wait until then to apply. If you are already in an income-driven repayment plan, you are not required to recertify before payments start. However, if your income has dropped, you may want to recertify early so that your new payment will be based on your lower income.
Consequences of Defaulting on Your Student Loan Payments
Defaulting on your student loans can have negative consequences. If your loans go into default, it can lead to a lower credit score, garnished wages and tax refunds, and the loss of access to more student aid in the future.