Student loan repayment deadlines move back, but moving targets frustrate some borrowers

The University of Dayton plans to hold in-person classes on campus during the 2021-22 academic year as it would during any other normal academic year. The university is, however, requiring everyone to wear face masks, regardless of vaccination status. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

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The University of Dayton plans to hold in-person classes on campus during the 2021-22 academic year as it would during any other normal academic year. The university is, however, requiring everyone to wear face masks, regardless of vaccination status. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

Federal student loan borrowers will once again see a delay in the restart date for student loan repayments, as President Joe Biden’s administration announced Tuesday the pause on student loan repayments has been extended to Aug. 31.

The pause was expected to expire on May 1. Additionally, the Biden administration announced plans to reset the accounts of borrowers who are not in good standing.

The change affects millions of people who have student loans, but also frustrates some borrowers who may be grateful for the extensions but want a better ability to plan for the future.

The restart date for student loans has been pushed back at least seven times. The freeze on repayments has now lasted for more than two years, after it began in March 2020.

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For New Carlisle resident Katie Lowe, the extension will help her and her family. Lowe has about $24,000 in student loans from two universities, but hasn’t finished a degree due to financial challenges and the need to take care of her two daughters.

But Lowe said the short timelines on which the Department of Education has been announcing the extension has made it hard for her and her family to plan.

“On a family and personal level, that makes planning for the future extremely hard,” Lowe said of the announcements.

Michele Streeter, associate director of policy and advocacy at the Institute for College Access and Success, a national nonprofit focused on college affordability and access, noted that a major part of the extension would allow borrowers in default a “fresh start” and reenter repayment in good standing. Streeter said many of the people who are in default went to for-profit institutions who didn’t serve students well.

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“This will allow them to have that clean slate and return to school if they want to be able to and rebuild their life from there,” Streeter said of the people in default.

She said concerns still exist about the implementation of the program, because the announcement did not include details.

Streeter said anyone with student loans, even with the extension, should make sure they know how to access their student loan accounts and make sure their contact information is up to date. That will allow everyone to be aware of what is happening, she said.

If a student loan borrower already knows they want to be on a different repayment plan when student loan payments resume, put in the request now, Streeter said.

“Just get ahold of that now, because if and when everything is turned back on, I think the department and servicers are going to be overwhelmed with requests for help,” she said.

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Jason Eckert, executive director of career services for the University of Dayton, noted for many universities,programs exist for people who are still in school and people who have graduated to help them get jobs.

The OhioMeansJobs local office is also a good resource, he said. The Montgomery County office is located at The Job Center, 1111 S. Edwin C. Moses Blvd. in Dayton.

“The extension that has been issued by the Biden administration is a great thing for anyone with student loans, including those who are struggling to repay loans,” Eckert said. “It also provides more time for someone to put together a plan and quite honestly, time to engage in a successful job search in case that individual is currently unemployed.”

Lowe said she and her family are still struggling, even with the extensions. Her husband works and she is a stay-at-home mom.

“The cost of living right now is astronomical, especially with inflation and being a single income household, and child care is just not affordable,” she said.

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