Gather information before the student loan pause ends
Most federal student loan borrowers have been taking advantage of the pause on federal student loans. For many, this break has been vital during a time of financial hardship. Last week the Department of Education announced one final extension of the administrative forbearance until January 31st, 2022. It has now been 18 months since the student loan pause began in March 2020 and if you have lost track of your student debt, now is the time to get organized. Your loans go back into repayment in February 2022.
The first step in making sure you are on the right path for your student loan payment is to compile the basic details such as: loan type, balance, interest rate, servicer, etc. But where do you start? Luckily, there are websites you can use to view this information all in one place.
First, you will need to determine if your loans are federal vs. private. All Federal loans in your name are included on the Federal Student Aid (FSA) website. Borrowers need to sign in using their Federal Student Aid ID (FSA ID). If you do not have an FSA ID or you don’t remember it, you will have the opportunity to either create a new FSA ID or reset the password for your FSA ID.
Federal Student Aid (FSA)
When you sign into the My Aid > View Details > Aid Summary/Loans section of the FSA website, you will see a list of ALL the federal loans that are in your name, totaled and sorted by servicer. You will see each loan, the current loan balance, interest rate, date of the first disbursement, status of the loan, and last repayment plan used. You can click on each loan to access more information: the date you entered repayment, last payment date, total balance broken down by principal and interest, amount and percentage you have paid off, and the loan servicer’s contact information. If you use an income-driven repayment plan, you will also see when you need to recertify your income each year. Borrowers who are working toward Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) will want to track the PSLF Cumulative Match Months (number of qualifying payments after PSLF forms are processed).
You also have the option to download the information to a text document. The FSA website allows you to estimate your loan repayment: review the plans each loan may be eligible for and estimate payments for each plan through the Loan Simulator. This website is the place to apply for an income-based repayment plan or apply for a federal consolidation loan, if applicable.
After you have reviewed the helpful data on the FSA website, you should create an account on your servicer’s website if you have not done this previously. You will submit your loan payments to your servicer. You can also view repayment plan options and request to change your payment plan through your account. Be sure to update your servicer with your current email, phone number, and address. They will not be able to provide proactive outreach without accurate contact information.
It is important to be aware that your servicer may change over the life of your loan. In fact, borrowers who are currently assigned to FedLoan Servicing (PHEAA) or Granite State Management & Resources will see a change in loan servicer in the next few months as both of these servicers will not renew their contract with the Department of Education at the end of 2021.
Unfortunately, there is no website similar to FSA where you can login to view all private loan details. Your credit report should list ALL loans that you either borrowed or co-signed. This should include all your federal loans and any private loans not on FSA. AnnualCreditReport.com is one way to access this, they allow anyone to get a free copy of their credit report once per year from each of the credit reporting companies. Once you have compiled your private loans, head over to your servicer’s website(s) to view all loan details, view the monthly payment amount and make payments. Consider setting up automatic payments to avoid late penalties and possibly earn a small interest rate reduction!
DO NOT WAIT UNTIL 2022
Having this information readily available will make it easier to get started with your student loan repayment. For those who are able, consider getting ahead on your student loans while the federal interest rate is at 0%.