As the Student Loan Payment Pause Ends, Here’s What to Know

But all of this is temporary unless you take some extra steps. Borrowers must contact their loan holder to keep their loans out of default for the long term. If they don’t take action, loans will fall back into default a year after the pause ends.

It’s pretty simple: Contact the Education Department’s Default Resolution Group — by phone, online or mail — and ask it to take your loans out of default through the Fresh Start program. It will transfer your loans to a regular loan servicer (which can take four to six weeks) and wipe the record of default from your credit report. Taking these steps will also restore access to income-driven repayment plans and forgiveness programs, including Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

Delinquent borrowers will also receive a fresh start: Their accounts will be considered current.

That should remove the pressure for borrowers who were in danger of falling into default, which happens if you’re at least 270 days behind. If you were delinquent, find out what your payment is expected to be; if you still cannot afford it, consider enrolling in a different repayment plan that will lower your bill.

Besides your servicer, groups like the Institute of Student Loan Advisors, known as TISLA, can provide free guidance on what options may best work for you. For New York State residents, EDCAP, a nonprofit focused on student loans, also offers help. And some employers and other organizations have hired companies like Summer, which helps borrowers sort through the options.

Borrowers need to be on high alert for scam artists offering debt relief and other services. If you’re unsure whether the help you’re being offered is legitimate, hang up, don’t respond to the email — and reach out to your servicer using the number printed on your bill or the government website. You can file complaints through the Federal Trade Commission and your state’s attorney general.

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