The millions of borrowers of federal student loans who made payments during the Covid epidemic have good news: many of them will be qualified to receive their money back.
Many borrowers qualifying for President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness program who made payments on their debt during the pandemic-era hold on the bills will automatically receive refunds, according to the U.S. Department of Education. The relief policy began in March 2020 and is set to expire on December 31.
Between April 2020 and March 2022, more than 9 million Americans made at least one payment on their federal student loan, according to the government. The great majority of borrowers have taken advantage of the bills’ suspension and interest accrual by not making any payments.
What borrowers should know is listed below.
How would a refund be helpful?
You can make sure you receive the entire amount of forgiveness for which you are qualified by asking for a refund. The maximum amount that can be forgiven is the lesser of your eligible federal student loan balance or $10,000 ($20,000 if you received a Pell Grant).
Receiving a refund could ensure that you receive the entire relief if you made payments during the pandemic that brought your balance below the forgiveness amount you’d otherwise qualify for.
You’ll also have some cash on hand to put toward other objectives.
Which fees are subject to a refund?
According to higher education expert Mark Kantrowitz, repayments made on federal student loans that are eligible for the pause since March 2020 should now be refundable.
The nearly 5 million borrowers of Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL) with commercially held accounts weren’t qualified for the payment suspension and won’t be for the return either.
According to Kantrowitz, any payments made prior to the epidemic are equally ineligible.
How do I make a refund request?
According to Elaine Rubin, senior contributor and communications specialist at Edvisors, not all debtors are required to submit applications for the reimbursement.
For borrowers who qualify for student loan forgiveness and those who made voluntary payments during the suspension period to bring their total below the maximum forgiveness amount, which is either $10,000 or $20,000, the refunding procedure will be automatic, according to Rubin.
“They will be offered an automatic refund for the difference,” Rubin said.
However, if you paid out your debt in full during the epidemic, you’ll need to take action and ask for the payments to be returned.
According to Kantrowitz, borrowers who have refinanced their federal loans must also ask their student loan servicer for the refund.
Even if you believe you are entitled to an automatic refund, Kantrowitz advised calling your servicer and asking for one to be sure you do.
How much money will I get back?
The repayment of loans should include “everything that was paid since March 13, 2020,” according to Betsy Mayotte, president of the charity The Institute of Student Loan Advisors.
Do I really need to ask for a refund?
Not always, according to Mayotte. To receive the most forgiveness possible should be your aim.
“Only borrowers who have paid their balances down to an amount lower than what they believe will be forgiven should consider asking for a refund,” she said.
She explained that seeking for a refund doesn’t make sense if you made payments during the outbreak but still owe $40,000 in student loans “as you will still owe a balance after the debt relief is applied.”
The Education Department states that the refunded payments will raise your loan debt and potentially your monthly payments.