If it turns out that your loans weren’t forgiven, here are four things you can do before the forbearance ends to put yourself in a position to have an affordable monthly payment and eventually get your loans forgiven:
Sign up for income-driven repayment. IDR plans cap your student loan payments at 10-20% of your discretionary income. The plans come with an added benefit: loan forgiveness after 20 to 25 years of payments. Read more about income-driven repayment forgiveness.
Get out of default. Delinquency and default block most paths to loan forgiveness. Plus, student loan default puts you at risk of having your wages garnished, tax refund seized, and Social Security benefits offset. Getting out of default will restore your eligibility for income-based repayment plans, deferments, loan forgiveness, and so on. It will also improve your credit score.* Read more about how to find defaulted student loans and how to get student loans out of default.
Consolidate if you have FFEL Loans. The Education Department announced it would make a one-time account adjustment to give borrowers credit towards IDR forgiveness to fix issues related to forbearance steering. Eligibility for this benefit is limited to borrowers with department-held loans. If you have commercially held FFEL Loans — you have these types of loans if you had to make payments throughout the pandemic — you must refinance the loans into a new Direct Consolidation Loan to qualify. Read more about the IDR account adjustment.
Apply for borrower defense. Around 200 thousand former students who went to for-profit schools they said defrauded them will have their loans wiped out under a deal the Education Department struck to settle claims pending from the Trump administration. Check the borrower defense school list to see if your school is listed. If it is — or even if it isn’t, but you believe your school lied to you about job placement, job readiness, the transferability of credits, and so on — submit a claim on studentaid.gov. You may be eligible to get your balance erased.
Related: What Increases Your Total Loan Balance?
* In April, the Education Department announced it would automatically restore all borrowers in default with federal loans to good standing before payments resume. Read more about the student loan fresh start program.