Federal student loan borrowers were dealt a pretty harsh blow when the Supreme Court ruled against President Biden's student loan forgiveness plan -- a proposal that would've forgiven up to $20,000 in debt per individual borrower. Now, those with federal student loans will have to gear up to resume their payments come October after a multi-year pause.
But what if your financial situation is such that you don't think you'll be able to keep up with your monthly student loan payments? Maybe you've switched jobs and had to take a salary cut. Or maybe you've had to reduce your hours after having a child.
You should be aware that failing to make your student loan payments on schedule could have serious consequences. For one thing, falling behind on that debt could cause major damage to your credit score. Once that happens, it could become difficult or even impossible to qualify for a loan when you need one. And even if you do qualify, you might get stuck with an exorbitant interest rate because lenders will perceive you as being a big risk.
But credit score damage aside, defaulting on your student loans could have an even more detrimental consequence -- wage garnishment. If you fail to keep up with your payments, the government will have the right to take some of your earnings. That could leave you in a truly dire spot.
As such, it's best to do whatever you can to avoid getting to that point. The good news is that federal student loan borrowers have a host of repayment options they can look at. So if your current student loan payments are too much for you to handle, consider applying for one of these repayment plans instead.
1. The Extended Repayment Plan
The Extended Repayment Plan allows borrowers to stretch their student debt payments out over time. The upside in doing so is getting to make smaller monthly payments, which may be a necessity right now. However, you should know that you'll end up paying more money all-in with the Extended Repayment Plan compared to the standard repayment plan for federal loans due to accruing more interest.
2. The Pay As You Earn Repayment Plan (PAYE)
If you took out student loans on or after Oct. 1, 2007 and received a disbursement of a Direct Loan on or after Oct. 1, 2011, then you may qualify for the PAYE plan. Under this plan, your monthly student loan payments will amount to 10% of your discretionary income, but not more than what those payments would've looked like under the standard repayment plan.
Furthermore, your monthly payments will be recalculated each year under the PAYE plan based on what your income looks like as well as your family size. You're also eligible to eventually have your student debt forgiven under this plan. (This forgiveness has nothing to do with President Biden's recently shot down proposal -- it's a function of being on a federal income-driven repayment plan.)
3. The Revised Pay As You Earn Repayment Plan (REPAYE)
With the REPAYE plan, your monthly student loan payments will amount to 10% of your discretionary income. As is the case with the PAYE plan, under this plan, your payments will be refigured every year based on your income and family size. You're also eligible to eventually have your student debt forgiven under the REPAYE plan.
Don't let yourself default on your debt
Defaulting on student loans could hurt you financially for years on end. If you feel you're at risk of having that happen, reach out to your loan servicer and discuss your options for getting on a new repayment plan that's easier for you to manage.