Student Loan Repayments: Time to Review Your Budget?
All good things must end. This includes the end of federal student loan payment relief measures, which paused federal student loan debt collection and reduced interest rates on federal student loans to 0% during the record-long "breather" period.
With payments restarting in early October, it's time to get a realistic view of your financial picture.
STEP 1: Take an Inventory
As a first step, document how much you owe and who to contact about student loan balances. Log onto , the Federal Student Aid website, to get your current loan balances. The portal will display how much you borrowed, the type of each loan and interest rate, payment history, and the current loan servicer for each loan.
Get a complete picture of your finances with your credit report, which tracks current and past credit obligations, including student loans. provides borrowers a free report from the three main reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. These resources are also useful to track current loan servicers - the organizations that handle payment and administration of your debt.
STEP 2: Contact Your Current Loan Servicer(s)
Armed with your loan information, reach out to your current loan servicer. This is a good time to check your login credentials, make sure your contact information is up-to-date. Note your payment start date and the monthly amount due.
STEP 3: Review Your Budget
A basic budget form can help you visualize just how much money you earn after taxes are taken out and where your money goes.
If your income is greater than your expenses, scheduling your monthly student loan payments with your loan service provider should be within reach.
Alternatively, you might find that resuming payments for federal student loans will stress your budget. Ignoring the situation, or trying to 'hide' or 'roll the die' thinking another forgiveness program is on the horizon is a bad move. Ignoring payments will harm your credit.
STEP 4: Explore Options
For government student loans, explore with your current loan servicer the option to lower monthly payments by switching to an income-driven repayment plan.
Private student loan lenders typically don't offer income-driven plans, but a consolidation loan may be an option to lower your monthly payment.
For some, loan forgiveness might be an option. Teachers, nurses, first responders, service members, those working in non-profit hospitals, and other non-profit and public service workers can potentially have their student loans forgiven. To explore whether you can take advantage of the changes to the public service loan forgiveness program, visit .
Get Trusted Guidance
As you plan out your next steps, watch out for fraudsters. They are using this transition time as an opportunity, and fake offers to 'help' are abundant.
Some Tips to Avoid Student Loan Scams
Don't Share Information
|Do not give anyone contacting you about student loans ANY information, especially not your Federal Student Aid (FSA) account details.
|Check StudentAid.gov for reliable information about your loans, make sure your loan servicer has your up to date contact information.
|If anyone is asking for money from you, this is an immediate red flag. You will not be required to pay any upfront cost or fees for legitimate student loan forgiveness.
If you feel overwhelmed or even just a bit confused, we're here. Community First has trained experts to talk to you about your situation. Reach out to us at 920-830-7200 and ask to speak to a Certified Financial Counselor or contact us online.
We've also partnered with GreenPath Financial Wellness, a national non-profit that offers free, confidential counseling on student loans, credit report reviews, and budgeting. Request a financial counseling session or call GreenPath at 1-877-337-3399.
By pursuing higher education you took a smart step towards crafting a brighter financial future. As student loan repayments start back up – staying on that healthy track is more important than ever. Reviewing your current budget and being proactive is the best path for your continued success.