President Biden has extended the pause on federal student loan repayment until October 1, 2021. For millions of people with student loans, that is a welcome respite for their budgets during the pandemic.
But one thing that may not be apparent to borrowers is that those payments are just being deferred, not forgiven. The date at which their student loans will be fully paid off has simply been pushed out by the same amount of time as the extension.
Let’s say it would have originally taken you 120 months to finish paying off your student loans. With the federal pause in place, you now have a few different options to consider:
1: Continue paying as normal
What if you made your payments as if there was no repayment freeze? You’d actually finish paying off your loans in September 2030, three months earlier than your original end date of December 2030.
2: Make half your expected payments until October 2021
Here’s an interesting alternative. What if you wanted to start chipping away at your loans while also taking advantage of this federal deferment period? Contributing half of your expected student loan payments from January to October 2021 would move your completion date to mid-April 2031. That’s just three and a half months later than your original end date.
3: Make only your estimated interest payments until October 2021
Remember, if the federal freeze weren’t in place, you’d also be paying interest on your loans each month. What if you decided to estimate this interest and just pay that each month during the deferment period? This option would move your completion date to mid-July 2031, six and a half months later than your original end date.
4: Wait until October 2021 to start paying
And finally, what if you took full advantage of this repayment freeze and didn’t start paying off your loans until October 2021? If you went back to your regular payment schedule after the freeze was over, you’d finish repaying your loans a full ten months later than normal, in October 2031.
So what’s the bottom line based on these four scenarios? We’re not in the business of giving you financial advice, and it’s important to remember that everyone’s situation is different. Online tools such as this student loan calculator can help you get a sense of your own repayment timeline and make the best decisions for yourself.
That being said, you should try to take advantage of the latest pause in federal student loan repayments in order to get ahead however you can! Your future self will thank you for it.