Student borrowers have more time to pay their bills. But how long?

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An assistant for the inbound administration of Biden mentionned Last week, the president-elect will extend the payment break and interest waiver for student loan borrowers beyond this month, when it was due to expire.

That means the 42 million Americans with federal student loans will have more time before they have to start making their monthly payments again.

However, one detail was missing from the announcement: how much longer?

“Federal student loan borrowers are currently in limbo when it comes to restarting payments,” said Anna helhoski, a student loan expert at NerdWallet.com.

Despite the current uncertainty, here are some answers to questions you might be asking yourself.

How long will the extension last?

Without the Biden administration detailing how long an extension will last, all experts can do is speculate.

“I hear everything from April to September,” said Betsy Mayotte, president of The Institute of Student Loan Counselors, a non-profit organization that helps student borrowers with free advice and dispute resolution.

Higher education expert Mark Kantrowitz said he believes the hiatus will last until the end of September 2021.

“Other proposals are not long enough, given that the pandemic and its economic aftershocks will not be over by then,” he said.

How can I prepare to start the repayment?

A lot has changed this year.

Make sure your lender has your most recent contact details, including your email address and stated address. Scott Buchanan, executive director of the Student Loan Servicing Alliance, a trade group for businesses.

“You can confirm that we have the correct information by simply logging into your online account,” he said. “This way you will hear all relevant information directly from your service agent on when you will resume the refund.”

What if I ask for public service loan forgiveness?

Cancellation of public service loans was enacted by President George W. Bush in 2007 and allows certain government and nonprofit employees to have their federal student loans canceled after 10 years.

Each month during the payment break still counts towards the 120 payments you need to make to get your student loans canceled through the program. This means that it doesn’t make sense for you to keep paying off your loans during the stay, even if you can afford it.

I’m afraid I won’t be able to pay my bill

What if I have private student loans?

The government payment break only applies to federal student loans. For the millions of Americans who have private student loans, the bills are still due.

Some private lenders offered borrowers relief options at the onset of the pandemic. Unfortunately, many of these programs have dried up, Mayotte said.

Still, it can’t hurt to ask your lender for help.

“If a borrower is having difficulty with their private loans, their best advice is to contact their private loan manager directly, as most don’t advertise the relief options they offer,” she said.

I’m always working. What should I do with the extra money?

If you haven’t suffered any major financial setbacks during the pandemic, it may be a good idea to continue paying off your student loans while interest is suspended.

“These payments will go entirely to principal, which will help them pay off their debt faster,” Kantrowitz said.

But first you should consider setting up an emergency savings fund with half a year ‘s salary, he added: “They might have their jobs now, but who knows what might happen. in a month or two? “

If you already have a healthy savings account, use the extra cash to pay off private loans or credit card debt, experts say.

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