When the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded in March of 2020, millions of student loan borrowers were thrust into financial uncertainty. To provide much-needed emergency relief, federal student loan payments were put on pause, and interest rates dropped to zero percent. Now, after over two years of the extended federal student loan “freeze," repayments are set to begin again after December 31, 2022.
With a few months left to prepare, it's a great time to get organized and make a plan for repaying your student loans. Here are a few things you can do to get ready for student loan repayments to resume later this summer:
Amid the ongoing pandemic, many student loan borrowers are still facing financial challenges. Thankfully, the federal student loan program offers several payment plan options to choose from depending on your unique financial needs and goals. For example, you might consider an income-driven repayment plan, which calculates payment amounts based on your income and family size. Check out this Loan Simulator to learn which option might work best for you.
If you're in a more stable financial position, it's a smart move to continue making federal student loan payments during the pause period. Taking advantage of the 0% interest rate on student loans can help you pay down your loans faster and save money in the long run!
Even if you don't need to make changes to your student loan repayment plan, you'll still want to make sure the same amount fits within your current budget. Without that monthly payment, it's normal if you developed some extra “spending leaks" over the past two years. Try using Money Management, a free digital tool available through WPCU's Mobile and Online Banking, to stay on top of your spending. This way, you won't be caught off guard when your student loan payments resume.
As spring draws nearer, beware of scammers asking for your student loan account PIN or password via social media, phone call or email. Scammers may offer to “suspend" your student loan payment or claim you're eligible for loan forgiveness through phony programs like “Biden Loan Forgiveness or “CARES Act Loan Forgiveness." Don't fall for it! If you're looking for student loan-related information and advice, turn to trusted sources like StudentAid.gov and WPCU's student loan and college access counselors.
If you're feeling overwhelmed by your student loans (federal or private), refinancing is another option to consider. Refinancing could help you pay your loans off sooner or help save help you save on your monthly payment. When you refinance your student loans, you take out a single new loan to pay off your old ones. The idea is to combine multiple student loans into one easy-to-manage payment at a great low rate. Using a student loan refinancing calculator will give you an idea of how much you could save!
Keep in mind that by refinancing federal student loans, you may lose certain borrower benefits from your original loans. These may include interest rate discounts, principal rebates, deferral options or some cancellation benefits that can significantly reduce the cost of repaying your loans.
At Wright-Patt Credit Union, we want to help simplify your student loan refinancing experience!
Our student loan refinancing allows eligible borrowers to refinance and consolidate private and federal student loans (including PLUS loans) into one manageable loan. Rates are at historic lows right now, and WPCU offers flexible repayment terms to fit your needs. Best of all, you'll be borrowing from the credit union you know and trust!
Find out more about WPCU's student loan refinancing or contact our student loan and college access counselors with any questions you have about student loan funding and repayment. We're here to help you borrow smarter!