LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The budgets of 43 million Americans are changing. Student loan providers are finally recollecting this month after a three-year pause that started with the coronavirus pandemic.
For those stressed about the debt, there are ways to save while paying. The loan plan you started with doesn’t have to be the plan you stick with. Income driver repayment (IDR) plans cut the bill in half for some former students KARK 4 News with.
Walking around Tyndall Park playground in Bryant, Eden Cameron is well aware of the ups and downs of the student loan pause. She said she paid $250 monthly on a 25-year graduate plan three years ago.
“The hiatus happened, and we allocated that money elsewhere,” Cameron explained.
That extra money helped Cameron and her husband pay for their mortgage, car note, and their now two-year-old daughter. With payments resuming in October, Eden’s family looked to the Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE) plan to help.
The new federal program calculates a monthly payment based on your income and family size.
“It has cut my payments from before the hiatus in half,” Cameron stated.
Cameron is not alone. According to the U.S. Department of Education, Arkansas recorded nearly 400,000 borrowers with a combined $13.4 billion of student debt as of June.
Wes Henry in Little Rock has $70,000 in debt from grad school. He also applied for SAVE toward the end of August and learned he was accepted days ago.
“It would calculate how much you can pay so that way you can still pay for necessities and still pay a little bit off your loans which is a breather.”
After 25 years of consistent payments, the remaining balance is forgiven. That can take even less time for smaller loans.
“With that, whew, I think you know, I think that I will make it,” Henry sighed.
Arkansas Federal Credit Union reminded its customers of the reintroduction of student loans this month and encouraged people to look into the SAVE plan and other ways to save. Dustin Cole, senior vice president of Consumer Lending at Arkansas Federal Credit Union, said those confused or concerned income-based repayment plans are probably your best bet.
“If you’re feeling overwhelmed, if you think I’m only making you know $3,000 a month and I got a thousand-dollar student loan payment that’s about to come due,” Cole stated.
For those who are not eligible, Cole said refinancing other payments may help. He added budgeting is also an important part of realizing where you are at and where you are heading.
Cameron said some of her classmates took on six-figure debt. When they qualified for SAVE and saw their monthly bill drop from mortgage level to a few hundred, she knew she’d qualify too.
“Even if you don’t think that you qualify, definitely try,” Cameron added. “The worst they can say is, ‘No,”
Cameron said her husband is taking all the overtime he can to find the extra money, but with SAVE she knows they’ll get in the swing of making payments again.
SAVE is not the only federal IDR plan. It’s only the newest. More information can be found at StudentAid.gov.