Federal student loan payment pause: What's next?

And how you should handle the pause in payments until September.
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Posted at 9:06 AM, Feb 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-02 09:06:39-05

INDIANAPOLIS — Roughly $1.7 trillion is the amount of outstanding federal student loan debt here in the United States.

Whether your student loan debt is enough to pay for a small SUV or a small house, for the last 10 months, federal student loan payments have been put on pause, and that will continue through September.

“I think the pause is great, and it needs to be done for as long as things are shut down, and people can't make a good living if they can go out and do their jobs,” said Brad Caron, a PhD student at Indiana University.

He said in 5 years of schooling, he’s racked up quite a bit of debt and the pause of his federal loans has been nice, but it didn’t cover his private loans.

“It was kind of a mixture of, 'Oh great, some of my loans I don’t need to worry about, but the others are like, full price, let's go,'” said Caron.

The Trump Administration began the pause on federal student loans in March when the pandemic began, and President Biden requested it is continued through September.

Payments for the nearly 1.7 trillion dollars in student loan debt are currently set to resume in October.

Now on top of the pause in payments, President Biden proposes a $10,000 forgiveness for all federal student loan borrowers. Something Caron thinks is a step in the right direction.

“The student loan forgiveness, I think, the idea is good, but I don't think in principle or in practice it's good enough,” said Caron.

His main concern is that the proposal doesn’t address private student loans or federal graduate student loans.

I also spoke with Jeremiah Wheatley, an area firefighter going through the adult accelerated program at the University of Indianapolis.

He believes it shouldn’t be someone else’s burden to pay for his volunteer student loan debt.

“My area that I work in a lot of individuals that I serve in the public aren't going to be able to attend college without scholarships or other assistance. I don't feel it necessary that they should be burdened with my choice of going into adult education trying to better myself down the road,” said Wheatley.

Both gentlemen agree the problem starts with career planning that should happen in high school and the rising tuition cost across the state.

So, how can you make the most out of this pause on student loans?

Experts say if you are still able to make your pre-pandemic payments, you should continue to do that and some if possible.

Since there is no interest being collected right now, payments would go directly to what you owe.

We wanted to give you an idea of what the current tuition situation looks like across the state.

Purdue University has frozen its tuition rate for a decade. Currently, it sits at about $10,000 for an undergraduate. Butler University has also frozen its tuition for the 2021-22 academic year, at about $42,000.

At Indiana University, tuition is about $11,000 per academic year. Ball State University tuition is sitting at about $8,000, and an IUPUI tuition is about $10,000.

It is important to note that these are just tuition numbers and do not include room and board.