Imagine what it would be like to suddenly get a bill for hundreds of dollars – and not just one time, but every month for the next ten years! This would be a challenge for anyone, even those of us with superior budgeting skills. But this is what millions of student loan borrowers will face in the very near future as the federal student loan payment pause is scheduled to expire on August 31. Industry experts expect another extension until the end of the year, but as of today, the Department of Education is standing firm with a September 1, 2022 repayment start date.
Of particular concern are the borrowers who graduated or otherwise separated from college since the spring of 2020 – they’ve never had to make a single student loan payment, request a deferment or choose a payment plan; the list goes on! It’s very likely they haven’t even thought about their student loans since completing the mandatory exit counseling. Help them by pulling out all the stops on communication: phone, text, email, portal notices, etc. Tell them what steps they should be taking now to ensure success.
Borrower communications should include the following guidance:
- Verify how much you owe, what your monthly payment will be on the standard repayment term and if that payment will fit in your budget. If the payment pause is extended again, practice making payments by putting the equivalent amount in your savings account until your first payment is due.
- If your monthly payment on the standard repayment plan is not affordable, review the many repayment options including income-based repayment. And if you qualify for income-based repayment and work for a non-profit or government agency, look into the requirements for Public Service Loan Forgiveness now rather than later.
- Identify the servicer to which you will be making payments as it is very likely that company has changed since you had your exit counseling with big players like Navient and Fedloan Servicing exiting the program.
The good news is that all of this information is available in one place – StudentAid.gov.
Your support and active engagement in this issue will earn you some good will with your former students as well as help your institution’s cohort default rate.
The Higher Education Assistance Group is here to support you when your staff is stretched too thin. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can help!