It’s 2022, and those with federal student loans can start the new year with a sigh of relief: The U.S. Department of Education instituted a few changes that could help borrowers financially throughout the year.
First, the Education Department’s pause on loan repayments, interest and collections remains in effect until May 1, as does the garnishments of wages for those who have defaulted.
In December, the department extended the pause (originally set to end Feb. 1) due to the wildly contagious omicron variant of the coronavirus. The decision was made in order to give borrowers additional time to “plan for the resumption of payments and reduce the risk of delinquency and defaults after restart.”
The pause—in effect since March 27, 2020—has been a saving grace for some borrowers, allowing them to redirect potentially hundreds of dollars in monthly payments to necessities, like housing, food or savings during the pandemic.
In addition to an extension of the payment pause, some borrowers qualifying for public service loan forgiveness (PSLF) have until Oct. 31, 2022 to take advantage of changes to the PSLF program, which the Education Department announced in October of last year.
These temporary changes include offering a waiver to retroactively count FFEL, or Federal Family Education Loans, toward the 120 payments needed for PSLF; counting any prior payment made as qualifying toward the 120 needed as long as the borrower has a direct loan; and automatically certifying employment for federal employees and military members.