TISLA in the News
Now that federal student loan payments have resumed, here’s what to consider before refinancing
Federal student loan borrowers don’t need to refinance to get a slightly better rate, Kantrowitz pointed out: Most student loan servicers will offer a 0.25% interest rate deduction when you sign up for automatic payments.
It can’t hurt for people who already have private student loans to see if they can pick up a better rate, Mayotte said. If your current interest rate on your private student loan is, say, 12%, you may be able to refinance for a rate around 7%, she said, if you have a good credit profile.
3 Million Student Loan Borrowers Have Monthly Payments Cut to $0
In total, 5.5 million borrowers were enrolled in the Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE) plan as of Oct. 15, meaning more than half of those who have signed up so far have income levels that qualified them for $0 monthly payments. On average, all borrowers in the plan have had their monthly bills reduced by $102, amounting to a savings of $1,224 a year from pre-SAVE levels.
“SAVE is doing what it said it was going to do, which is to provide significant relief,” says Betsy Mayotte, the president of The Institute of Student Loan Advisors, a nonprofit organization that provides free student loan advice to borrowers. “Especially to borrowers whose loan balances are high compared to their income.”
What you need to know about President Biden’s new student loan forgiveness plan
It’s been four months since the Supreme Court blocked President Joe Biden’s plan to forgive up to $20,000 in student debt for most people with federal loans. Now, the administration has come out with a new, very different student debt relief plan.
It’s still in the early stages and will need to go through a whole rule-making process, but if some version of it is finalized, it could offer a new path to loan forgiveness for a lot of people.
“It’s the White House trying to take another bite at apple from a different angle where they might have surer footing from a legal perspective,” said Betsy Mayotte at the nonprofit Institute of Student Loan Advisors.
It will likely be about a year — maybe a little less, maybe little more — before anything is finalized, she said. “This is not a done deal, and the proposals could change significantly before it is a done deal.”
Plus, any final rule could be challenged in court, Mayotte added.
About 305,000 student loan borrowers got monthly bills with the wrong amount
Borrowers who believe their monthly payment amount is wrong should first double check with StudentAid.gov’s simulator, which helps people calculate what their monthly payment should be and what repayment plan is best for them.
If the amount looks off, Mayotte recommends that the borrower call the loan servicer – and continue to call until someone on the phone gets the bill corrected.
Some borrowers have had to wait hours on holdto connect with a customer service representative, and student loan servicer websites have been sporadically down since interest resumed accruing on federal student loans on September 1.
Mayotte also warned about scammers that mislead borrowers with offers to lower their student loan payment for a fee.
As federal student loan payments restart, some older borrowers’ Social Security benefits may be at risk
“Anybody who is in default now that is worried about their Social Security or even just regular wages being garnished should take advantage of the Fresh Start program,” Mayotte said.
Not only does the program eliminate the risk of garnishment for its duration, but it also puts the borrower back in good standing so they can take advantage of income-driven repayment plans, Mayotte noted.
In addition, the Biden administration has also unveiled a new income-driven repayment plan that cuts borrowers’ obligation to just 5% of discretionary income. That may cut many enrollees’ previous monthly payments in half, and will leave some with no monthly bill.
Here’s why Americans are racing to repay their federal student loans before they’re even due
Betsy Mayotte, TISLA president, points out how some borrowers may be making lump sum payments towards their debt, “We are seeing a lot of borrowers who took advantage of the zero-interest period of the three-plus-year COVID period to save money in an interest-bearing account.”
How to Complain About Your Upcoming Student Loan Bill
“My No. 1 tip for someone to file an effective complaint is to keep emotions out of it,” Mayotte says. “Yes, you’re probably angry and frustrated and anxious, and I’m not discounting those things, but they don’t make an effective complaint.”
Including details — like dates of calls and instructions you received — can expedite your resolution, Shafroth advises. Attach copies of relevant documents, like an incorrect bill or a loan discharge application you submitted.