(NEXSTAR) – As if the ongoing legal debate over President Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan wasn’t enough, federal borrowers have been thrown for another loop with the debt ceiling deal.
As part of the bill, the pause on student loan payments will have a firm end date.
Federal student loan borrowers haven’t been required to make regular payments on their debt since March 2020 when then-President Donald Trump started the freeze in response to the COVID pandemic. It’s been extended multiple times since, including the most recent extension issued by Biden in November, which he called the final such move.
Per the current extension, payments would resume 60 days after the Supreme Court makes its decision, or 60 days after June 30, whichever happens first.
Though, it appears payments will resume even sooner.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said that, as part of the debt ceiling deal he and Biden announced last weekend, the student loan payment pause is “gone within 60 days” of the bill being signed.
With the U.S. just days from defaulting, Biden said he will address the nation Friday and
looks “forward to signing this bill into law as soon as possible.”
If that were the case, the student loan payment pause would end in early August and Biden wouldn’t be able to extend the pause again. However, the bill doesn’t factor in the Supreme Court’s decision.
Confused? You aren’t alone.
Some borrowers have noted that their accounts with loan servicer Nelnet say scheduled payments aren’t due until October 2023. Servicer Aidvantage has a similar message for some borrowers, while another servicer, MOHELA, says that while its systems say August 31 is the end of the payment pause, “this date may change” depending on the Supreme Court’s decision.
Nelnet did not immediately respond to Nexstar’s request for clarification. All providers, as well as the Department of Education, say borrowers will be notified before payments restart.
It’s also unclear if borrowers that graduated during the payment pause will have an additional pause on their payments. According to the Education Department, on certain federal student loans — Direct Subsidized, Direct Unsubsidized, and Federal Family Education Loans — borrowers receive a six-month grace period before they are required to start making regular payments. This applies to graduates and students that drop below half-time enrollment or leave school.
The White House didn’t respond to Nexstar’s request regarding whether eligible borrowers will receive that grace period.
Ultimately, borrowers may be stuck waiting for additional guidance from the Education Department and their loan servicers.
While you wait for payments to restart, there are a few things you can do to be prepared:
Betsy Mayotte, President of the Institute of Student Loan Advisors, encourages people not to make any payments until the pause has ended. Instead, she says, put what you would have paid into a savings account.
She also recommends using loan-simulator tools like this one provided by the Education Department to find a payment plan that’ll fit your needs.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.