After a three-year pause put in place during the pandemic, federal student loans will start accruing interest again on Sept. 1, and payments will resume in October.

Borrowers should not expect another payment pause extension from the White House, since this latest repayment timeline is now a provision in the debt ceiling deal approved by Congress.

Americans also are waiting to find out whether the Supreme Court will allow President Joe Biden's student loan forgiveness plan to go ahead, but payments will resume regardless of what the justices decide.

Renewed student loan bills could come as a shock to the nearly 44 million borrowers with federal loans. Borrowers who left school in 2020 or later also will need to prepare for their first-ever student loan payments.

Here’s what you need to know as you gear up for those payments to resume:
 

First, locate your student loan servicer, since the company that manages your student loans may have changed over the past three years. You can find your loan servicer by logging on to studentaid.gov.

Next, make sure your loan servicer has accurate and up-to-date contact information. Repayment start dates will differ depending on who manages your loan, so be sure to ask when payments will resume and how much you’ll owe each month, once they do.

There will be tough decisions for many borrowers, especially those who are already struggling to make ends meet at the end of the month. But not paying your bill on time or at all can have severe consequences, including denting your credit score and excluding you from future federal aid.

Student loan repayment is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. It depends on a number of things, including the kind of loan you have, so ask your loan servicer about payment plans that are available to you.

Several federal plans base your payments on your income and family size. Income-driven repayment plans, such as Pay As You Earn and Revised Pay As You Earn, can make your payments more manageable and, in some cases, could push your payment as low as $0 per month.

If you can’t keep up with payments, ask your lender about a deferment or forbearance period.

In this Aug. 25, 2022, file photo, student loan forgiveness advocates attend a press conference on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House in Washington, D.C.

 

According to Bankrate, if you qualify for student loan deferment, it’s usually a better option. You may be able to freeze payments for longer than you would in forbearance, and unlike forbearance, interest won’t accrue if you have subsidized loans or Perkins Loans. But, Bankrate advises that if there’s no deferment available, apply for forbearance.

If your student loans were in default before the freeze, enroll in the federal government’s temporary “Fresh Start” program. Approximately 7.5 million borrowers have federal student loans in default, according to federal data. Among other things, the “Fresh Start” program will return loans to "current" status on a borrower’s credit reports and give them access to federal student aid and other government loans, like mortgages.

The bottom line is that financial experts say don’t wait for these student loan repayments to creep up on you. Instead, start budgeting your finances now. Set money aside each month into a high yield savings account or other interest-bearing account so you don’t shock your financial system once payments resume.