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If you have federal student loans, your payment suspension has just been extended.

On Friday, the US Department of Education extended the student loan abstention break, which Congress authorized following the coronavirus pandemic, until the end of January 2021. The break in payments owed was scheduled to end at the end of 2020.

“The coronavirus pandemic has presented challenges for many students and borrowers, and this temporary pause in payments will help those who have been affected,” said U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

Here are some answers to common questions about what happens when student borrowers need to start making payments again.

When will the payments restart?

The pandemic-related abstention approved by Congress earlier this year was originally scheduled to end on September 30. But President Trump in August ordered the US Department of Education to continue to freeze payments and prevent interest from accumulating until December 31. On December 4, DeVos announced that forbearance had been extended to January 31, 2021. Your federal student loan payments are expected to resume in February, although the payment due date varies from student loan manager. If you don’t receive a notification in the coming weeks, call your service agent to find out when to make your next payment.

What if I changed my bank account?

If you opened a new bank account during forbearance, you must contact your service agent to change your direct debit information. You may be able to change your bank account information through your agent’s online customer service portal.

Can I receive a payment refund?

If the payments were automatically debited from your bank account after March 13, you can request a refund from your service agent. Then you can redirect the money to the required payments once they pick up. All payments you made have been charged to principal after interest accrued before March 13 has been paid. If you don’t ask for a repayment, you can repay the loan sooner. You can use our calculator to see how these additional payments affect when you pay off your loan.

What happens if I consolidate the loans during the forbearance period?

If you consolidated your federal loans in a single loan with a single payment, your loans always operate under the rules of automatic forbearance. Your interest rate at the time of consolidation was 0%. Your permanent interest rate will resume on the basis of a weighted average of the consolidated loans once the suspension of payment is over. For example, if half of your payments had an interest rate of 6.5% and half of them had an interest rate of 3.5%, your interest rate on your consolidated loan would be 5 % once payments resume.

Could the government extend the automatic tolerance?

The Education Ministry’s announcement represents the third extension of automatic forbearance since the pandemic. It’s unclear whether Biden’s new administration will allow further extensions. While you don’t want to rely on an expansion until this happens, you should monitor the Ministry of Education website for program changes.

If you don’t need the extension because you’ve returned to work and aren’t eligible for student loan forgiveness, you may still want to make payments. When your interest rate is 0%, it’s a great time to pay off your loan principal.

Do I have to contact my server before the time?

If your details are not up to date, you should contact your service agent or log into your account before the end of the year and ensure that all information is still correct. Verify your name, physical address, phone number, and email address. If your email or email is sent to an old address, you may not receive notification when your next payment is due.

Should I expect to hear from my server?

Loan managers will contact borrowers to let them know when it’s time to start making payments again. Since the January payment due date may vary, you’ll want to contact your service agent yourself if you haven’t received a phone call, email, or letter from your service agent. before the end of the year.

The email or letter you will receive outlines the next steps for your particular situation, whether you are working, for example, at Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) where you are in your six month grace period after graduation. Your agent’s online customer service portal may have copies of any communication sent to you.

What if I can’t make payments after the suspension ends?

If your income has plummeted, or you’re still unemployed at the end of November, you’ll want to look at either. general abstention request or a new repayment plan. You could be entitled to monthly payments as low as $ 0 on a income based repayment plan.

If the income-based repayment plan you purchased before Covid requires higher payments based on past income, call your service agent to update your income. Your required payment now that you are bringing home $ 3,000 a month may be less than when you were making $ 4,000 every four weeks.

Will direct debit payments resume automatically?

It depends on the loan manager. A service agent can automatically resume payments. Others may need you to request resumption of payments. Contact your service representative directly for instructions.

Did abstention extend my time to receive the PSLF?

As long as you were still working full time for a qualified public service employer during automatic forbearance, you essentially got a break. You will receive credit for your 120 on-time payments as long as you are not in school, in a grace period, on probation, or some other type of forbearance during the automatic abstention period.

If you lost your job during automatic abstention, you will no longer receive credits for payment from the date you became unemployed. You can resume making your payments on time once you are rehired or work for another approved public service employer.

Do suspended payments lengthen the time I spend before I receive a pardon for an IDR plan?

Each payment excused during automatic forbearance counts as an on-time payment and brings you one month closer to forgiveness.

At the end of the line

The automatic student loan forbearance is scheduled to end on January 31, 2021. Contact your manager to verify your next payment due date, your details are correct, and your income-based payment is based on your current income.

You should prepare to resume payments, but check the Department of Education website in January to verify that the suspended payments end.