In response to the COVID-19 emergency, Federal Student Aid (FSA) initiated a payment pause for eligible federal student loans, set interest rates to 0%, and stopped collecting on defaulted loans (COVID relief measures). The COVID relief measures have been extended to May 1, 2022. The Washington State Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) encourages federal student loan borrowers to prepare for repayment to resume.
Steps Student Loan Borrowers Can Take
Update Your Contact Information
Borrowers should expect to receive a billing statement from their student loan servicer and Federal Student Aid (FSA) in early 2022. FSA is encouraging borrowers to verify their contact information, and make any necessary updates to their profile with their servicer and FSA as soon as possible.
Verify Auto-Debit Enrollment Status
DFI encourages all borrowers previously enrolled in auto-debit to contact their servicer to verify their enrollment status and verify their auto-debit banking information on file with their servicer.
- Borrowers who enrolled in auto-debit prior to March 13, 2020, must confirm whether they intend to remain enrolled.
- Borrowers who enrolled in auto-debit after March 13, 2020, will resume automatically.
- Borrowers who previously enrolled in auto-debit and opted out of the payment pause do not have to take any action to stay enrolled in auto-debit.
- Borrowers whose loans are in default have different auto-debit options and can manage them here Home | Debt Resolution (ed.gov).
- Perkins Loan borrowers who made auto-debit payments during the payment pause do not have to take any action to remain on auto-debit.
- Perkins Loan borrowers who did not make auto-debit payments during the payment pause are no longer signed up for auto-debit.
Shop Repayment Plans
Borrowers’ financial situations may have changed dramatically during the payment pause. DFI and FSA encourages all borrowers to find a repayment plan that meets their needs and goals. FSA offers a loan simulator allowing borrowers to compare different repayment plans. Borrowers can access the loan simulator here: Loan Simulator
Borrowers may want to consider applying for an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan to get a monthly payment tailored to your income and family size. Additional information regarding IDR application process is available here: Apply for Income-Driven Student Loan Repayment.
Beware of Student Loan Forgiveness Scams
DFI and FSA encourages borrowers to remain vigilant against scammers offering financial aid or assistance, such as a “pandemic grant” or “Biden loan forgiveness”. For additional information on avoiding student loan forgiveness scams visit the FSA website Avoiding Student Aid Scams.
Important Information for All Consumers
If you received a loan from a lender and someone else is now attempting to collect the loan, the collection activity may be subject to the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). If you are contacted by a third party claiming you owe a debt, you can request a “written validation notice,” which must provide the amount of the debt, the name of the creditor you owe, and your rights under the FDCPA. If you have questions regarding federal debt collection laws you can contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at 1-877-FTC-HELP or online at www.ftc.gov.
If you feel you have been the victim of a scam you can contact the FTC at 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357) or online at www.ftc.gov; or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) at 1-855-411-CFPB (2372) or online at http://www.consumerfinance.gov.
If the scammers already have your bank account information, social security number, or other personal information, you may be a victim of identity theft. You can contact your bank and the three major credit bureaus to take appropriate precautions. The FTC has information for victims of identity theft online at www.ftc.gov.
If you feel you have been the victim of a scam involving the internet you can contact the Internet Crime Complaint Center online at www.ic3.gov.
If you feel you have been the victim of a financial scam and are concerned about your personal financial information, you can contact your banking institution and the three major credit bureaus. Procedures for contacting the credit bureaus are available on the FTC’s website at www.ftc.gov.
If you live in another state, go to this webpage to find the regulator in your home state. http://mortgage.nationwidelicensingsystem.org/consumer/Pages/AgencyContacts.aspx.
For additional information regarding COVID-19 emergency relief measures please visit the FSA website COVID-19 Loan Payment Pause and 0% Interest.