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  • Federal direct student loans are automatically suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic and will not take automatic payments until the end of the period on September 30, 2020.
  • If your income has not been affected, you can pay off your loans during this time, but you must call your loan manager and make arrangements to do so.
  • Student loan expert Travis Hornsby says most people probably shouldn’t choose to pay off their loans anyway, especially if you’re using an income-driven repayment plan or public service loan forgiveness program. .
  • For many middle- and low-income Americans, putting money into an emergency fund or going into debt on a high-interest credit card might make more sense than paying off student loans right now.
  • If you have private student loans that don’t offer payment relief, consider refinancing at a lower rate ”

coronavirus and rising unemployment figures have brought about big changes in student loans.

Federal student loans are automatically in abstention at this time. the abstention, which temporarily defers student loan payments and lowered interest rates to 0%, began March 13 and will last until September 30, 2020.

All Federal Direct Student Loan borrowers should see that automatic payments have stopped and that all payments made since March 13 can be repaid by calling your loan officer.

Loans issued by the Federal loan for family education (FFEL) Programs, such as Parent PLUS or Stafford Loans, will not receive automatic forbearance. Private student loans are not subject to forbearance – borrowers still have to make their payments as usual, although some lenders make accommodations for people affected by the pandemic.

It is still possible to make payments now, if you have a stable job and plan to pay off your loans in full. Until September, any additional payments will go directly to the loan principal, reducing the amount used to calculate interest. Although automatic payments have been suspended on federal loans, contact your student loan officer to make the payments if you wish.

It may seem like a great opportunity to take that 0% interest and make “extra” payments on your loans, if you can afford it. Mais, student loan expert and founder of Student loan planner Travis Hornsby says that for most people, now is not the time to worry about getting ahead on student loan payments.

If you have an income-based repayment plan or public service loan cancellation program, there is no reason to pay.

“Please don’t make any additional payments at this time,” Hornsby wrote in an email to the student loan planners community on April 9.

This is because, for anyone using a income-driven repayment plan (IDR) or a public service loan exemption program (PSLF), paying off your student loan during the forbearance period will not help you progress faster. These programs, which both require an application process, cancel loans after a certain number of months. The six months during the forbearance period will count towards this total for anyone participating in this plan, whether or not you make a payment.

“If you were in IDR before March 13, any payment suspended between that date and September 30 counts as a loan forgiveness,” Hornsby wrote.

If you expect your loans to reach cancellation, there is no reason to try to make a payment during the forbearance period caused by the coronavirus. “You’re not getting gold stars for making extra payments right now,” Hornsby wrote.

If you are not on a repayment plan, you can always skip payments

Hornsby believes most Americans would be better off paying off expensive credit card debt and building an emergency fund while student loan payments are suspended, two choices that could protect them financially if they lose their jobs and their income.

“A typical person, like a $ 30,000 student loan borrower, likely has a middle-class-like income and would likely be more at risk of being made redundant,” Hornsby told Business Insider in a follow-up conversation. .

Build a emergency fund, a savings account with several months of spending, will help avoid high interest debt if you lose your income or get sick. “In the worst

recession
since maybe the Great Depression, when everyone loses their jobs, it seems smarter to keep money just in case, ”he said.

In addition, although many banks offer short-term payment deferrals and other adjustments for people unable to pay their credit card bill, credit card debt is still accumulating interest right now, and the balances are still affect credit scores as usual. “There is no negative credit event going on with this 0% student loan interest. It’s going to be reflected in your credit score by carrying credit card debt,” Hornsby said.

If you paid, you can get a refund

Anyone can get the money that was paid out for federal student loans right now, repayment plan or not.

If you’ve paid off your student loans but could use the money, you can get repayments if your loan qualifies. According to Federal student aid website, “All direct debit payments processed between March 13, 2020 and September 30, 2020 may be refunded to you.” “

Getting your payment back if you need it should be as easy as picking up the phone and calling your loan officer. “In most of the situations I see, people get a refund processed within two to six weeks,” Hornsby wrote in his first email.

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