President Joe Biden recently announced the payment pause on student loans has been extended to August 31, 2022. The student loan payment pause has been in effect since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The current relief measures for eligible loans include: a suspension of loan payments, a 0% interest rate, and stopped collections on defaulted loans.

While this is great news for many student loan borrowers, this does not mean that all student loans have been forgiven. Most borrowers should begin preparing for the restart of payments at the end of August.

Biden Student Loan Forgiveness

Recently, the Department of Education announced more changes to the federal student loan system that would offer loan relief to millions of borrowers. According to CNN, these actions “will bring more than 3.6 million borrowers at least three years closer to receiving forgiveness through what’s known as the income-driven repayment program, or IDR.”

Individuals who will qualify for student debt cancellation either now or in the future must be enrolled in an Income-Driven Repayment plan. Fox Business describes income-driven repayment (IDR) as a program that “limits a borrower’s monthly student loan payment based on discretionary income and family size.” For borrowers under IDR, their remaining loan balance will be discharged after 20 or 25 years of payment. However, many borrowers who have been enrolled in an IDR and making payments for 20 to 25 years have not had their balances discharged.

Following the changes announced by the Department of Education, the Federal Student Aid office is conducting an account adjustment that will make several of these individuals eligible for forgiveness almost immediately. This move should help at least 3.6 million federal student loan borrowers move closer to forgiveness.

For more information on who qualifies for student loan forgiveness under the new guidelines, check out this article from Forbes

Public Service Loan Forgiveness

Depending on who you work for, you might qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). According to the Federal Student Aid Office, “if you are employed by a U.S. federal, state, local, or tribal government or not-for-profit organization, you might be eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.”

This program will forgive the remaining balance on your Direct Loans after 120 qualifying monthly payments have been made. To be eligible, you must be under a qualifying repayment plan and work full-time for a qualifying employer.

Here are the exact requirements you must meet in order to qualify for PSLF, as stated by the Federal Student Aid Office on their website.

  • be employed by a U.S. federal, state, local, or tribal government or not-for-profit organization (federal service includes U.S. military service)
  • work full-time for that agency or organization
  • have Direct Loans (or consolidate other federal student loans into a Direct Loan)
  • repay your loans under an income-driven repayment plan
  • make 120 qualifying payments.

Employees of the following organizations are eligible for PLSF:

  • Government organizations at any level (U.S. federal, state, local, or tribal) – this includes the U.S. military
  • Not-for-profit organizations that are tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code
  • Serving as a full-time AmeriCorps or Peace Corps volunteer

Improve Student Loan Debt

To improve student loan debt, and potentially get you closer to student debt cancellation, consider enrolling in an income-driven repayment plan (IDR). If you currently have federal student loan debt and are a student loan borrower in good standing, you can apply to be put under an income-driven repayment plan. Defaulted loans are not eligible for repayment under any of the IDR plans. 

Even though the White House has made several changes when it comes to student loan repayment and student loan forgiveness, it’s important to note that for most borrowers not much has changed. For those who still have student loan debt, now is a good time to start figuring out options moving forward (like enrolling in an IDR plan) before repayment begins this summer. For more information on IDR plans and payment assistance, contact your loan servicer or visit studentaid.gov.

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