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Things to Know if You Made Payments after March 2020

If you made any payments on your federal student loans during the payment pause, we have good news! As part of the federal government’s student loan forgiveness program, you can get those payments refunded and made available for loan forgiveness.

Keep reading to learn who qualifies and how refunds are applied.

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Automatic Refunds: Who is Eligible?

According to the Federal Student Aid (FSA) website, StudentAid.gov, you will automatically receive a refund of your payments during the payment pause if:

  • You successfully apply for and receive debt relief under the  debt relief plan, AND
  • Your voluntary payments during the payment pause brought your balance below the maximum debt relief amount you’re eligible to receive but did NOT pay off your loan in full.

The example provided mentions if you’re a borrower eligible for $10,000 in relief; had a balance of $10,500 prior to March 13, 2020; and made $1,000 in payments since then — bringing your balance to $9,500 at the time of discharge — they’ll discharge your $9,500 balance, and you’ll receive a $500 refund.

Manual Refund Requests: Things to Consider

If you meet the eligibility requirements to receive forgiveness and you paid your loan in full during the payment pause, you can manually request a refund.

Keep in mind:

  • If your income is above the $125,000 ($250,000 household) limit, you won’t qualify for any forgiveness, so there’s also no point in requesting a refund.
  • If getting a refund will give you an outstanding balance that is more than the full amount you’re eligible to receive in forgiveness, you will have a balance that needs to be repaid with interest starting January 2023.

Steps to Take to Manually Request a Refund

Here’s what you have to do:

1. Make sure you have the same loan servicer as you did at the beginning of the payment pause. Some borrowers had loans transferred between servicers in the past year. Visit your account dashboard at StudentAid.gov and scroll down to the “My Loan Servicers” section. You can also call the Federal Student Aid Information Center (FSAIC) at 1-800-433-3243.

2. Your loan servicer should have accurate records of your payments. Nevertheless, we recommend that you create a list of your payment dates and the amounts you paid before you contact them.

3. Contact your loan servicer to start the refund process. We recommend doing this soon. Your servicer can process refunds now. They’ve been extra busy since the forgiveness program was announced, so it may take some time.

4. It will take your servicer about six weeks to process your refund. Once it’s complete, they’ll add the amount you were refunded onto your loan balance.

5. After receiving your refund, you’ll need to complete the forgiveness application form. FSA hasn’t published the form yet, but it’s expected in October. We recommend confirming the refund has been applied to your account before applying for forgiveness.

Get Updates and Assistance

You can find all of the details about federal student loan debt relief at StudentAid.gov/loancancellation.

Sign up for email and text alerts through your FSA account to be notified when the application is available.

If you have questions, you can contact your servicer or Student Connections. We work on behalf of schools to provide federal student loan repayment counseling. We can be reached at (866) 311-9450, Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. ET. We also can be reached via email at intouch@studentconnections.com.