When Do I Need To Start Making Federal Student Loan Payments Again?

A guide to when you'll need to begin repaying your federal student loans

A student loan borrower checks her forbearance status.
Photo:

Photo_Concepts / Getty Images

To provide economic relief to student loan borrowers, payments on federal student loans owned by the U.S. Department of Education are suspended into June 2023.

Note

On Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022, the Biden administration extended the pause on payments and interest on federal student loans for the eighth time. Borrowers with federal student loans won’t have to make payments, and loans won’t resume accumulating interest, until 60 days after court cases challenging Biden’s student loan forgiveness program are resolved or the Department of Education is allowed to move forward with the program. If the cases aren’t resolved by June 30, 2023, payments will resume two months after that.

Here's how the timeline has evolved. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act temporarily paused payments on federal student loans through Sept. 30, 2020. On Aug. 8, 2020, and again on Dec. 4, 2020, President Donald Trump directed Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to extend the payment pause.

On Jan. 20, 2021, President Joe Biden extended student loan forbearance until at least Sept. 30, 2021. This was followed by two more extensions: to Jan. 31, 2022, and then again to May 1, 2022. It extended again on Aug. 24, 2022, this time until Dec. 31, 2022. Then, on Nov. 22, 2022, Biden announced another extension into 2023.

Key Takeaways

  • Payments on federal student loans owned by the Department of Education are suspended into 2023.
  • No interest will accrue on federal student loans during that time.
  • You do not need to take any action to put your loans into forbearance or stop making payments.

Federal Student Loan Forbearance Extension: What It Means

The CARES Act did three things for federal student loans:

  • Put loans into automatic administrative forbearance
  • Set interest rates at 0%
  • Suspended collections on defaulted loans

The original moratorium on interest and payments began on March 13, 2020, and was set to expire on Sept. 30, 2020.

There have been seven extensions since then. The most recent extension happened on Nov. 22, 2022, when the Biden administration announced the loan forbearance program will be in place until court cases are resolved in 2023.

Note

You have the option to continue making loan payments during forbearance. If you choose to do so, the entire payment will go toward reducing the principal balance on your loan after any interest that accrued before March 13, 2020, is paid. Making payments now can help you reduce your loan balance more quickly since the full amount you pay will go toward reducing your loan balance.

Which Federal Student Loans Qualify?

The pause on payments, collections, and interest applies only to certain loans from the Department of Education:

  • Direct loans, including defaulted and non-defaulted loans
  • FFEL program loans, including defaulted and non-defaulted loans
  • Federal Perkins loans, including defaulted and non-defaulted loans
  • Defaulted HEAL loans

However, HEAL loans that commercial lenders own are not eligible for this program. Perkins loans owned by the school you attended are not paused either.

On March 31, 2021, the Department of Education expanded its forbearance relief through Sept. 30, 2021, to include FFEL loans owned by private parties, retroactive to March 13, 2020, which means that if the borrower made payments during the forbearance period, they can request a refund.

Any wages or tax refunds garnished by the loan owner will be returned to the borrower. The loans will be restored to good status, and credit bureaus will be notified to remove any black marks for delinquency from your credit report.

You can find out which loans you have by logging into your Federal Student Aid account. Once in the menu, select the relevant loans from your dashboard and click "View Details" to see whether the Department of Education owns the loan. If it does, the servicer's name will start with "DEPT OF ED."

In most cases, interest your loans accrued before March 13, 2020, will not capitalize. If you were already on a deferment or forbearance, interest accrued will capitalize after your forbearance ends, as will interest accrued if you were in your grace period. 

What Are My Relief Options if I Don't Have Qualifying Loans?

Note

On Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022, President Joe Biden announced via Twitter the cancellation of $10,000 of federal student loan debt for eligible borrowers and $20,000 for federal Pell Grant recipients.

If you do not have qualifying loans, your servicer may offer other forms of financial relief. Some of your options include:

  • Requesting administrative forbearance directly with your loan servicer
  • Determining whether you qualify for economic hardship deferment or an unemployment deferment (both options could result in interest on some loans being subsidized)
  • Refinancing student loans, though this option is best for private student loans (refinancing federal loans would mean giving up important borrower benefits)

If you put non-federal loans into forbearance, your loans will continue accruing interest. You will have a larger balance to repay once your payments resume.

How Will I Know When To Start Making Payments Again?

Your loan servicer should notify you via email or mail before you need to start making loan payments again. You can log into your online account with your loan servicer at any time to see your loan status and to determine whether you have a payment due.

Note

Loan servicers are companies that oversee your federal student loan repayment. You can find out who your loan servicer is by contacting the Federal Student Aid Information Center (FSAIC) at 800-433-3243 or by visiting the National Student Loan Database System (NSLDS).

However, several major loan servicers that work with the Department of Education have urged their borrowers to keep current on coronavirus relief. You can do that by regularly visiting the Federal Student Aid’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) information page at StudentAid.gov/coronavirus. This page provides updated details on the current policies that are in place. It also is meant to be your primary source for announcements about your loans. It will provide details on whether the payment moratorium will be extended and when loan payments will resume.

Updated by
Jess Feldman
jess feldman in a white shirt
Jess Feldman has been writing and editing for over five years, and currently focuses on financial topics. As an associate editor on the special projects team, she writes, edits, and develops tentpole brand projects across a variety of platforms. Since joining the financial space, she's developed an interest in finding ways to make the complex topic of finance relatable to younger generations, specifically via TikTok. Jess has a journalism degree from the University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism.
Was this page helpful?
Sources
The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Department of Education. “Biden-Harris Administration Continues Fight for Student Debt Relief for Millions of Borrowers, Extends Student Loan Repayment Pause."

  2. U.S. Department of Education. "Biden-Harris Administration Extends Student Loan Pause Through May 1, 2022."

  3. The White House. "FACT SHEET: President Biden Announces Student Loan Relief for Borrowers Who Need It Most."

  4. Federal Student Aid. "Coronavirus and Forbearance Info for Students, Borrowers, and Parents."

  5. U.S. Department of Education. "Department of Education Announces Expansion of COVID-19 Emergency Flexibilities to Additional Federal Student Loans in Default."

  6. Twitter. “@POTUS, Aug. 24, 2022 at 11:32 a.m.

Related Articles