After three years of being put on hold, student loan repayments are finally ready to resume. We knew this day would come eventually, and while many were praying for a complete cancellation of debts on the part of the federal government, it appears former students are back to repaying their debts as planned.
Repayments will resume by the end of September. There is concern rocking many of Oregon residents who are steeped in their own debt, wondering what the next step for them will be. There’s a lot of confusion rocking about, so I’m here to give you the rundown on what you and hundreds of thousands of other indebted Oregonians need to know about the upcoming loan repayments, as well as some services you can perhaps seek out.
According to a report from the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services, there is an estimate of 552,000 Oregon residents who have borrowed student loans, with the average debt being roughly $38,000. That’s a lot of people with a lot of money to pay, and many of them have concerns.There are quite a few questions that they might have, one of them being about perhaps being eligible for new repayment plans, while others were concerned about switching repayment plans. There are some who graduated in college during the hold on repayments and are still unsure on how to start the process.
If you have questions like these, there are a couple resources that can help you out. For one, you can go to the government’s student aid website (studentaid.gov), where they have explanations for certain processes and terms that you may not understand. It’s the U.S government’s own words on how to get things started, what plans you can do, how to consolidate them (if you want to do that), and ways to help you relieve some of that hardship. They will also have support for any questions you may have that are specifically related to your situation. After all, many are facing different circumstances from one another and may not have some clear cut problems.
U.S. Oregon Representative Suzanne Bonamici Webinar
Another option is through U.S. Oregon Representative Suzanne Bonamici, who hosted a webinar before September to help walk Oregonians through the return of student loan repayments, which you can find on Youtube.
She and her team also set up a website for helping Oregonians through the basics of student loan repayment, answering any of the basic questions they may have and the like. It even has a link to the full webinar for you to follow. It’s tailored specifically for Oregonians, too. It can be found on bonamici.house.gov.
Bonamici also harped on the need for Oregonians to take advantage of Biden’s SAVE plan, which is extremely important for anyone who is intimidated by the amount of debt they’re being faced with.
The SAVE Plan and Other Options
When the Supreme Court issued a decision blocking the Biden Administration from moving forward with their one-time student debt relief plan, the administration didn’t quit entirely. There are still options you can pursue in order to make your life just a tad easier.
Biden’s Saving on Valuable Education Program (SAVE) bases borrowers’ monthly payments on their income level. If you are a lower-income borrower, the program raises the income level requirement to make $0 in payments every month. Before the SAVE program, the limit was 150% of the federal poverty level. It’s now jumped up to 225%, which is a life saver for quite a few people.
In this way, if you’re making under 40,000 annually, your payments will be $0. Not only will you still be in good standing, but you’ll also be making progress towards your total repayment term obligation. I’m serious. In fact, there’s a protection in there that is extremely important, as before SAVE, many low-income borrowers’ monthly payments were so low that they didn’t cover accruing interest, causing their loan balance to increase. You won’t have to worry about this with SAVE. So you can see why people are harping on this so much. This isn’t the only option available to you, but it’s definitely the biggest and most prominent.
The benefits, however, will not be going into effect until the beginning of next year. It’ll be around then that people with balances of $12,000 or less of original loan debt will have their debt forgiven after a decade of repayments.
If you’ve had more than $12,000 in your original balance, you can still get your debt forgiven, but the requirement is another year of repaying per additional $1,000 borrowed. For example, if you have $13,000 in original loan debt, you need to have done at least 11 years of repayments.
There is also an initiative called “Fresh Start”, which aims to help those who have defaulted on loans to re-enter payment plans. If you want to go back to school, that will be especially important for you.
There is also a Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. This is for people who have worked for the government or for non-profit organizations. According to the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services, over 9,000 Oregonians have been forgiven for over $560 million in student loan debt.
The U.S. Department of Education is also implementing a 12-month “on-ramp” to repayment that eases borrowers back in. Those who miss payments during that period will not default on their loans or have to face additional financial consequences.
The prospect of having to face our student loans again (or for the first time, for some of you) can be pretty daunting, but it’s important that you realize that there are things that can help you if you are struggling to keep up with payments. The last three years have been awful for all of us, but rest assured that there are services out there for those who need it. If there’s one thing you’ve learned in your classes, however, let’s hope it’s how to not save these sorts of things for the last minute.