The rules governing repayment of federal student loans contain so many nooks and crannies that it shouldn’t come as a surprise that you may have missed one created during the COVID-19 Emergency Relief program.
In addition to the well-publicized rule that no payments are necessary on Direct Federal Student Loans until after January 31, 2022 – and no interest is being charged or collected until that time – there is this little gem for borrowers who might have overestimated their savings:
You can ask the government to refund any payments you made on Direct Loans owned by the Department of Education since the COVID-19 forbearance period officially began March 13, 2020.
“What? The government will refund any student loan payments I’ve made since March 13, 2020?”
Yes! And it’s actually pretty easy to get your money back.
How to Get Your Payments Refunded
All you need to do is call the lender servicing your student loan with this information:
- The dates you made payments
- The amount of each payment
- How many of the payments you want refunded
Borrowers who make payments to multiple loan servicing agencies would need to call each lender, but if you need the money, it’s time well spent.
When you get them on the line, it would help considerably to ask the lender for the date when you should expect the money to be refunded and how it will be refunded. Mark that date on your calendar and if you haven’t received the refund by then, make another call to the lender to see what happened.
If you happen to be part of the Student Loan Forgiveness Program, you can ask for a refund and not hurt your status. Even though you asked for the money back, as long as all other requirements were met, the payments you made still count toward the 120 payments needed to receive forgiveness.
Pause on Interest and Collections for FFEL Loans in Default
Another gem that some student loan borrowers might have missed was the Mar. 30 decision by the Biden administration to pause interest and collections on defaulted loans in the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) program.
This will halt action over one million borrowers who had defaulted on their FFEL loans and were at risk of having federal tax refunds seized to pay the loans. The relief is retroactive to Mar. 13, 2020, meaning any tax refunds seizes or wages garnished during the past year will be returned to the borrowers.
Can You Get a Refund for Private Student Loan Payments?
Please note that the COVID-19 Emergency Relief program does not apply to private loans or federal loans not owned by the Department of Education. If you are not sure of your loan status, call your loan servicing agent to find out if your loan qualifies for relief.
Some private loans do have forbearance programs, but in most cases, the loans continue to accrue interest during the forbearance period. Typically, the interest will be added to your principal at the end of the forbearance period, thus you likely will owe more money and ace an increase in monthly payments.
Again, contact your loan servicing agency to get specific details on any program they are offering.
Bill “No Pay” Fay has lived a meager financial existence his entire life. He started writing/bragging about it in 2012, helping birth Debt.org into existence as the site’s original “Frugal Man.” Prior to that, he spent more than 30 years covering the high finance world of college and professional sports for major publications, including the Associated Press, New York Times and Sports Illustrated. His interest in sports has waned some, but he is as passionate as ever about not reaching for his wallet. Bill can be reached at [email protected].
- N.A. (ND) 6 Things Student Need to Know During the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Retrieved from https://studentaid.gov/articles/6-things-to-know-during-coronavirus/
- N.A. (2021, March 30) Department of Education Announces Expansion of COLVID-19 Emergency Flexibilities to Additional Federal Student Loans in Default. Retrieved from https://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/department-education-announces-expansion-covid-19-emergency-flexibilities-additional-federal-student-loans-default
- N.A. (ND) 6 Things to Know About Public Service Loan Forgiveness During the COVID-19 Emergency. Retrieved from https://studentaid.gov/articles/6-things-to-know-about-pslf-during-coronavirus/