What’s Happening With Student Loans Right Now
- President Biden’s student loan debt relief plan is currently blocked until further notice. The Department of Education is not accepting any more forgiveness applications at this time.3
- The payment pause on federal student loans has been extended again until no later than June 30, 2023—or until a final decision can be made about Biden’s student loan debt relief plan.4
Student Loan Relief Extension
If you’re like most people, your student loans have probably been out of sight, out of mind for several years now. But that won’t last forever.
Back at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, people who had lost their jobs or were furloughed were having a hard time paying their rent—let alone their student loans. So, in March of 2020, the U.S. government passed the CARES Act to make things easier on those who were hit hard financially. This paused federal student loan payments and set the interest rate for federal student loans to 0%.
Up until now, student loan relief has been extended several times—mostly based on how the economy was doing (i.e., not great). But this latest student loan payment pause extension (announced in November 2022) is for a whole other reason.
President Biden was all set to have federal student loan payments start back up in January 2023, but he was also counting on his student loan forgiveness plan to have gone through by then—which hasn’t happened yet.
In fact, there’s been several legal challenges to Biden’s plan, and court orders have temporarily blocked the forgiveness until further notice. With so many borrowers waiting to find out if they’ll even have student loans to pay off in 2023, Biden made the call to extend the payment pause until things are sorted out. That could either mean the forgiveness is approved or it’s shot down completely. Either way, federal student loan payments will resume 60 days after a decision is made.
When will we get an answer? No one really knows. But if there’s no decision by June 30, 2023, federal student loan payments will resume 60 days after—so, around September 2023 at the latest.5
Yes, this may buy you some more time. But it won’t be long before your student loan payment is in your face (and coming out of your bank account) again. And the sooner you’re prepared, the better off you’ll be.
If you’re worried about being able to make your student loan payments once student loan relief ends, you’re not the only one. In fact, 92% of fully employed student loan borrowers are concerned that rising costs will make it harder to afford their student loan payments once they kick back in.6
But there are still things you can do now to get on top of your student loans—and get them out of your life for good!
How to Prepare for the End of Student Loan Relief
Start paying back your student loans now.
The best thing you can do to prepare for the end of student loan relief is to start making those payments now. We know that sounds pretty weird—why would you pay your student loan payments if you don’t have to? Because the interest alone will eat you alive. And right now, you can keep making those payments and not pay any interest. None. Zero. Zilch. That means your entire payment goes directly toward knocking down the principal amount of your student loans. That’s huge.
Sadly, our State of Personal Finance study found that 6 in 10 people who have student loan debt haven’t made any payments on their loans while payments have been paused.
But now is the time to make some serious progress on paying off your student loans! Once automatic payments start up again and the interest kicks back in, you'll be paying 5.8% (that’s the average student loan interest rate) on a smaller loan balance.7 And the sooner you pay off your student loans, the sooner you can feel that same sense of relief you may have felt the last few years—except you won’t have to worry about them coming back ever again!
Make sure your information is correct.
This tip is mostly housekeeping, but if you haven’t paid on your federal student loans since March 2020, it’s important to make sure your loan servicer has your correct information. Did you get married? Get a new phone number? Move to a new place? It’s a good idea to double-check that your loan servicer has all your correct info on hand before that first payment is due. Because the last thing you want is to be late or default on your student loans over a technicality. Just go to studentaid.gov to view and update your info.
P.S. Don’t be surprised if your loan servicer has changed since you last made a student loan payment. The Federal Student Aid office works with multiple loan servicers, and it’s more common than you may think for companies to transfer loans to another servicer. If that happens, you should get a letter or email letting you know about the switch. And you may need to create an online account with your new loan servicer. Just make sure your payment history and balance are correct, so you’re not stuck paying more than you owe.