Just Two-Thirds Of Student Loan Borrowers Have Made Payments

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Student Loan Borrowers Are Not Ready To Resume Payments
  • 69% of student loan borrowers surveyed have resumed making their loan payments
  • Only about half of borrowers feel they can afford their new monthly payment
  • Most borrowers had no issues with their loans while restarting payments

Only 69% of student loan borrowers have resumed making payments on their student loans, according to a new College Investor survey. This is slightly higher than the first announcement by the Department of Education highlighting 60% of borrowers have resumed making payments.

The student loan payment pause for Covid-19 officially ended on August 31, 2023. Interest resumed on September first, and for most borrowers, their first student loan payment would have be due in October 2023. However, the timeline for student loan repayment restart was skewed for some borrowers as student loan servicers struggled to keep up with the workload – repayment restarts, loan forgiveness changes, and more.

Specifically, student loan servicer errors kept millions of borrowers deferred until payments could be fixed and repayment plan changes processed. This included enrolling borrowers in the new SAVE student loan repayment plan.

Only Two-Thirds Of Borrowers Have Resumed Payments

According to the survey results, 69% of borrowers have resumed their student loan payments. In December 2023, the Department of Education announced that 60% of borrowers have resumed their payments according to their data.

It appears that more borrowers have started making payments on their student loans.

There are several reasons borrowers state they haven’t made student loan payments yet. While some are choosing to not make payments intentionally and are leveraging the 12-Month On-Ramp period, most are in administrative forbearance due to loan servicing issues, or didn’t know they needed to already. 

Slight Majority Can Feel They Afford Their Student Loan Payment

When it comes to affording their student loan payment, just 53% of borrowers felt they could afford their monthly payment. In our survey before payments resumed, just 45% of borrowers felt financially ready to afford their student loan payment.

The most common reason borrowers say they can’t afford their student loan payment is because they are unemployed or underemployed. 

Inflation making other areas of their budget more expensive was also a common concern.

Most Borrowers Are On Their Original Repayment Plan

Given the concerns about affording their student loan payment, we asked if borrowers were changing their repayment plan to the new SAVE plan touted by the Biden Administration. This would help improve the affordability of their loan payments – making some payments legally $0 per month for low income individuals and families.

In January 2024, the Department of Education announced that 6.9 million borrowers were enrolled in the SAVE plan. That’s roughly 16% of federal student loan borrowers.

Our survey found that just 12% of borrowers had switched to the SAVE plan, while 60% were in their same repayment plan from before the pandemic. The remaining amount didn’t know exactly what payment plan they were repaying their loans under.

How To Get On Track With Student Loan Payments

The 12-month on-ramp period for student loan borrowers to resume payments ends in September 2024. Borrowers who still have no started making student loan payments need to take some time to find the best repayment plan for their loans.

Borrowers can see the options by using the Loan Simulator at StudentAid.gov. For borrowers who don’t know where their loans are located, they can sign-up for StudentAid.gov, or check their credit report.

Here’s a guide to tracking down your student loans.

Methodology

The College Investor commissioned Pollfish to conduct the survey. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from Pollfish. Total sample size was 600 adults (18 or older), among whom all currently have student loan debt they are responsible for. Fieldwork was undertaken on February 9, 2024. The survey was carried out online and meets rigorous quality standards. 

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What Is The SAVE Repayment Plan?

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