The temporary pause on federal student loan payments has ended. Beginning Sept. 1, 2023, interest began accruing again, and borrowers will be required to resume payments in October.
If you have a federal student loan, use our tips to help you prepare for payments to start again.
"The time has come—take a breath. Now is the perfect time to take an overall look at your finances and see where you can make some changes to reintroduce student loan payments into your budget. Remember, you've got this. Don't lose focus of the bigger picture: becoming debt-free!"
Joshua, Navy Federal Personal Finance Management Counselor
Federal Student Loan Repayment Strategies
- Re-evaluate your budget. Check with your loan servicer to find out your upcoming payment amount. Then, take a look at your budget to identify areas where you could cut back so you can accommodate this new payment. During the pause in student loan payments, you may have been assigned a new loan servicer. To find out, call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-433-3243. If you have multiple federal student loans, you might have a different servicer for each one.
- See if you qualify for an income-driven repayment plan (IDR). If your student loan payments are high compared to your income, you may want to consider an IDR. These plans base your monthly payment amount on your income and family size. There are several types of IDRs, such as the Income-Based Repayment (IBR) plan and the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) plan. To see if you qualify for an IDR, contact your loan servicer.
- Apply for loan forgiveness. If you work in public service or for a nonprofit organization, you could qualify for loan forgiveness. Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) is the most common loan forgiveness program and forgives the remaining balance on student loans for individuals in these fields of work who have made 120 qualifying payments on their loan. Use the PSLF Help Tool to see if you qualify.
- Review your grace period timeline. You typically have a 6-month grace period after graduation before you need to start making payments on your federal student loans. If you have time remaining, you can use it to start creating a repayment plan by researching different payment options and learning about your loan servicer.
- Consider refinancing or consolidating. Refinancing involves replacing your existing loans with a new loan—which could offer you a lower interest rate or a different repayment period. If you have both federal and private student loans, you could refinance through a private lender and combine them into one payment.
But keep in mind that refinancing federal student loans may result in losing certain benefits, such as loan forgiveness programs or income-driven repayment plans. Before making your decision about refinancing, evaluate the pros and cons or talk to a financial advisor.
If you have more than one federal student loan, you could apply for a Direct Consolidation Loan that allows you to combine your federal student loans without losing your benefits.
- Check out the Fresh Start program. The U.S. Department of Education offers special benefits for borrowers with federal student loans that are in default. If you have a loan in default such as a ParentPLUS loan, visit the Federal Student Aid website for information.
- Check to see when your first post-forbearance student loans payment is due. You’ll find this information by logging into your loan servicer portal.
- See if you qualify for an income-driven repayment plan or for student loan forgiveness. These plans could reduce or even eliminate your monthly loan payments.
- Create a monthly budget based on your anticipated student loan payments. Look for ways to pay extra where you can, and prioritize loans with high interest first.
This content is intended to provide general information and shouldn't be considered legal, tax or financial advice. It's always a good idea to consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how certain laws apply to your situation and about your individual financial situation.