The Return of Student Loan Payments

A pandemic reprieve on student loan payments ends in January. If you still need financial help, there are steps you can take.

Drawing of a human figure with a ball and chain and the word "debt."
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you have federal student loans, you’ve probably seen e-mails reminding you that payments will restart after January 31. During the pandemic, the federal government suspended payments on federal student loans, with no interest accrual on loan balances.

If your budget can’t handle payments on your federal student loans, you may be eligible to lower them by enrolling in an income-driven repayment plan. There are several IDR plans available through the Department of Education, but all base your monthly payments on your earnings. If you’re already enrolled in an income-driven plan and your income has declined a lot, you can also ask your loan servicer to recertify your income and recalculate the payment.

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Emma Patch
Staff Writer, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

Emma Patch joined Kiplinger in 2020. She previously interned for Kiplinger's Retirement Report and before that, for a boutique investment firm in New York City. She served as editor-at-large and features editor for Middlebury College's student newspaper, The Campus. She specializes in travel, student debt and a number of other personal finance topics. Born in London, Emma grew up in Connecticut and now lives in Washington, D.C.