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Higher Ed: Support Students as Loan Payments Start

Jul 20, 2023

by Bob Collins
Vice President, Financial Aid

and Nate Blanchard
Director of Financial Services

As the temporary pause of federal student loan payments draws to a close, it's time for higher education leaders to act. 

The U.S. Department of Education has announced that, starting Sept. 1, interest will once again begin to accrue and payments will resume in October. That means higher ed leaders have an obligation to educate both students and alumni that payments are resuming and provide resources to assist with the process as roughly 43 million borrowers will need to take action this fall. This is particularly essential because it is expected that federal student loan servicers may be overwhelmed with inquiries in the coming months.

It is important that higher ed leaders outline steps students and alumni can take to make this a smoother transition as well as offer additional resources to support the varying needs of their student and alumni networks. For example, leaders can inform their students and alumni that those who have a federal student loan should follow these five simple steps:

  1. Borrowers should visit the dedicated Federal Student Aid website and log in. Take a moment to update personal contact information and carefully review the current payment plan. If financial circumstances have changed, students and alumni may qualify for income-driven repayment plans. This option could potentially lower or eliminate monthly payments based on income status.
  2. Confirm assigned student loan servicer. During the payment pause, roughly 16 million borrowers were assigned a new servicer. Don't let any surprises derail progress to resume federal student loan payments.
  3. Create an account or log in to the loan servicer's portal. Verify that an email address, phone number, home address and payment information are all accurate. This will help students and alumni to stay informed throughout the repayment process.
  4. Consider authorizing automatic debit payments from a preferred bank account. If auto-draft payments were previously arranged, reconfirm bank account information. This can help students and alumni stay current on student loan payments and increasing increase the likelihood of a smoother financial journey.
  5. Patience and diligence are key. With roughly 43 million borrowers entering repayment simultaneously, federal student loan servicers may experience delays in responding. To avoid last-minute stress, keep reaching out to them persistently.  Borrowers can also explore chat or email communication channels as alternatives to calling.
Students and alumni should also be encouraged to remain proactive by regularly visiting the Federal Student Aid website and explore options before contacting a federal student loan servicer.

WGU Director of Financial Services Nate Blanchard was an active member of the NASFAA task force to assist borrowers preparing to resume payment or begin repayment.

WGU’s Vice President of Financial Aid Bob Collins is a career financial aid administrator who believes that paying for college should be simpler for students.

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