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How do I pay my loans during the pandemic?

Are you paying your student loan payments right now? And even bigger questions do you HAVE to be paying your student loan payment right now? With the changes in the economy due to the pandemic, there have been never-ending updates about what payments you have to make, which ones you don’t, who do you need to call? Is interest accruing?! AH! I know, it’s a wild financial world we live in but I did the research and have the answers to all of these answers for you today. 

Hello and welcome to our LIVE facebook show, Ask Abby, that makes me Abby, and you ready for some answer about this pressing topic. We are talking student loans during this crazy COVID-19 world we live in. What are your options? Do you have to make payments? Should you be making payments. Great questions, so let’s dive in with the basics. 

There are two types of student loans, federal and private, and each one has some different options. So to start, the CARES Act, which became law at the end of march, suspended all FEDERAL student loan payments and reduced interest rates to 0% until September 30. So, probably two more deferred payments on your student loans right now. If you have federal student loans, you didn’t have to make any changes to your accounts or contact your servicer, your payments were automatically delayed. That even goes for people who had auto payments. People who have auto payments set up shouldn’t have had those payments processed and if you did, between March 13and Sept 30, contact your servicer for a refund (if you need to).

The questions is, Should you be making your payment? If you can, absolutely, especially with that 0% interest rate. The more you pay it down now, the more is going directly to that principle balance, so that’s a big fat YES from us. If you had automatic payments set up, you’ll either have to go in and manually pay your loans for these months or call your servicer to let them know you’d like to continue having that auto payment processed. 

If you have more questions specifically about federal student loans and the CARES Act, through those in the comment bar, or check our this FAQ page that really goes in depth on the specifics: 

  • FAQs for Federal Students Loans: https://studentaid.gov/announcements-events/coronavirus

Now, what about private student loans and the CARES Act? Unfortunately, there are no protections for students with private student loans included in the CARES Act. That said, there are still some options out there if you’re having a hard time making those payments. Chances are that if you were impacted financially due to COVID-19 changes, you’ve been trying to find a way to reduce some of your payments. Many servicers provide borrowers the options to defer at least two payments per year. 

Some states have passed laws that call for deferment. If you’re wondering if that includes you, check out your state’s attorney general offices.

And if you’re looking for forbearance options, call your servicer, many of them are understanding of the current circumstances. One big tip, it’s best to do this BEFORE you miss a payment. If you have already missed a payment, you can’t go back and count that one as a forbearance payment and if you don’t pay that, you’ll be facing late or delinquent reports to the credit bureau. 

We talked about the HEALs Act, which is still in the works right now, but there’s no talk of extensions on any of the CARES Act protections. So, what do you do after Sept. 30th, – or even right now – if you can’t pay those loans? 

  1. Call our coaches. We can connect you with a student loan expert who will look through all of your options to defer, reduce or maybe even forgive your student loans. Plus, if you have other debt payments that are causing your any trouble right now, they can look at that too. There’s no cost to call them, so give them a ring and they’ll talk you through your options
  2. Switch or modify your payment plan. Sometimes, you can adjust your repayment plan to be based on your income. So, if your income has been reduced and you’re having trouble making your payments, you have the option to do that without having to go through a refinance. If your income is below a certain number, these programs will change your monthly payment to $0! So, if you’ve been laid off, furloughed, or taken a major pay cut, make sure to apply for an income-driven repayment plan. If you’re already on the income-driven repayment plan and you’ve faced the same type of financial circumstance, you can apply for a recalculation of your monthly payment, potentially lowering it.
  3. Another option for reducing your student loans payments – and a potentially good one for you if you have private student loans is to consider a student loan refi. I’m not going to get too deep into refis because we did a whole show on student loan refis, which I will put into the comment bar now… 
    1. Why, when and how should you refi your student loans? https://www.facebook.com/114214120221201/videos/283553829393296

So, if you’re wondering exactly how that process works and if it’s right for you, check out that video I did earlier in our student loans series. 

There’s a lot of question whether more student loan protections will come up in the next couple of weeks, and there’s a good chance there will. If you missed Wednesday’s show last week, check it out in the link in the comment bar. It’s in there now. 

We talk about unemployment protections, eviction protections and even the potential for another stimulus check that could be headed your way. This is all based on the HEALS act which is in the hands on Congress right now. If it passes, some of these new laws could go into effect as early as this month. If not, any sort of relief could be on hold until September because there is a federal recess. So, rather than scraping through headlines and reading dozens of articles, just follow our Facebook page and opt-in for notifications when we go live because I’m staying on top of this stuff and I’ll make sure I let you know when something changes, which could be as soon as later this week! 

If you have other questions about student loan options, you can give our coaches a call or ask me question in the comment bar, on Facebook messenger, or even email me directly at askabby@creditanddebt.org

Before I log off, I have one big announcement. Our new platform, full of awesome financial tools is going LIVE this month! And we’d like some test users to explore the tools and resources before the big launch, so if you’re interested in getting a sneak peek, shoot me a message or an email and I’ll let you know how you can sign up for that sneak peek. 

That’s it for our show today guys.  I will see you Friday for a special show on Parent PLUS loans, what those are all about, whether or not you should take them out. So make sure to keep an eye out for that. And lastly, like and share this post so that your FB friends get this student loan advice during a crazy financial time. Thank you so much for tuning in and we will see you next time on Ask Abby!

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