Get Ready to Repay

Last updated April 14, 2022

This page provides a summary of the relief measures available to borrowers during the ongoing federal student loan payment pause, as well as actions you can take to get ready before repayment resumes.

What's the Latest?

On April 6, President Biden extended the student loan payment pause through August 31, 2022. This gives borrowers additional time to prepare for the return to repayment.

Great Lakes Educational Loan Services will continue to monitor announcements pertaining to federal student loans related to the COVID-19 emergency. We'll update this page as developments arise.

You can log in to your myGreatLakes account at any time to see your loan status. You can also visit ED's office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) COVID-19 information page at StudentAid.gov/coronavirus. We encourage you to check FSA's page regularly as it includes details about relief to federal student loan borrowers, including those who have defaulted on their loans.

What Are the Approved Relief Measures?

Here is a quick rundown of the benefits to borrowers on ED-owned federal student loans under the COVID-19 emergency.

Student loan payments are paused through August 31, 2022; you are not required to make payments through that date. Your account has been updated to reflect the latest extension.

Your interest rate remains at 0% from March 13, 2020, through August 31, 2022.

If you wish to make payments, you can do so anytime during the payment pause.

Months during which payments are paused and/or not due count toward income-driven repayment (IDR) forgiveness and Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) as long as you meet all other qualifications. For more information, review the COVID-19 IDR and Public Service Loan Forgiveness pages on FSA's website. We also encourage you to learn more about the limited PSLF waiver.

Additional Important Information

Here are some things to keep in mind during this payment pause. Some of these will apply to all borrowers, and some will apply to borrowers in particular circumstances.

  • IDR recertifications are now due no earlier than March 1, 2023. IDR plan annual recertification due dates occurring before March 1, 2023, are all now being pushed out by one year. For example, if your IDR recertification was due on October 1, 2022, the new recertification date is October 1, 2023.
  • If you wish to make payments to reduce your loan's balance, you can do so anytime during the COVID-19 payment pause. Log in to your account to make a payment.
  • You can get a refund for any payment, including those through Auto Pay, you make during the payment pause (which started March 13, 2020). To request a refund, please contact us.
  • If you want to opt out of the COVID-19 payment pause to take advantage of the 0% interest period, please contact us. By opting out, payments will be due every month going forward. You'll receive either online or paper billing statements, depending on your communication preference you have selected on your account. No interest will accrue through August 31, 2022. If your account becomes 30 or more days past due, FSA requires that we reapply the administrative forbearance (payment pause).
  • If you are on Auto Pay, the COVID-19 payment pause stopped your Auto Pay payments. If you want to continue making payments during the payment pause, you can log in to your account to make an online payment.

    You can also continue your Auto Pay payments by contacting us to opt out of the payment pause.

    Before the end of this payment pause, we'll reach out to tell you how much your scheduled monthly payment through Auto Pay will be after the payment pause ends.

  • The COVID-19 payment pause is a non-capitalizing forbearance. Because of the relief measures under the COVID-19 emergency, unpaid interest will not capitalize (that is, be added to your principal balance) during the payment pause and through February 28, 2023, six months after the payment pause is scheduled to end. Your interest will capitalize only if you consolidate your federal student loans. Great Lakes will reverse and delay any interest capitalization that has an effective date of March 13, 2020, through February 28, 2023.

How Can I Prepare for Repayment?

While it may seem a bit daunting to think about making payments after such a long period of time, please know that Great Lakes is here to help you every step of the way. We want your repayment experience to be as smooth as possible, so we've outlined the following actions you can take now so you'll be in good shape to manage your student loans.

Step 1: Make sure you can access your Great Lakes online account

If you haven't logged in recently, give it a go. If you don't remember your user ID, PIN, and password, we have tips for accessing your account.

Step 2: Bring your contact information up-to-date

If you've moved or changed your email address or phone number since March 2020, update your contact information on your account. Visit your Welcome page and select the Manage Profile section to confirm your address, email address, and phone number are correct. If your name has changed, please give us a call.

Step 3: Check your payment amount and expected due date

If you were already in repayment before the COVID-19 payment pause took effect, visit your Welcome page and view the Repayment Planner section to get reacquainted with your prior monthly payment amount. This will help you plan for the amount you'll pay once repayment begins.

If you weren't in repayment before the COVID-19 payment pause took effect (for example, you were in a grace period that has since ended), the Repayment Planner on the Welcome page will display an estimated amount you'll pay each month once the pause ends.

Also take note of your first due date (which will be after August 31, 2022) so you can adjust your monthly budget to start making student loan payments on time.

Step 4: Take action if you won't be able to afford your payments

Are you concerned that when repayment begins, you won't be able to manage your payments? If so, now is the time to act. While you're on the Welcome page, select Explore Repayment Options. There, you can start the process of applying for options that may better suit your needs.

Step 5: Watch for notices from us

Great Lakes and FSA have sent, and will continue to send, communications to help get you prepared for repayment. Read these notices carefully, as they have important tips about what to expect.

As the end of the payment pause grows nearer, we will send you a billing statement about three weeks before your due date. If you previously had a bill pay service set up with your bank, you may have to set that back up again. Refer to "I previously made monthly payments using a bill pay service. How do I continue using that payment method when repayment starts?" in the FAQs below.

In addition, if you were previously using Auto Pay to make your monthly payments, we'll send you notices to confirm you want to stay enrolled.

If you haven't already, you must confirm that you want to remain in Auto Pay for your payments to be made using that method. If you do not elect to stay enrolled in Auto Pay by August 8, 2022, your Auto Pay will be cancelled, you'll lose the 0.25% reduction on your interest rate, and you'll need to make other payment arrangements when the COVID-19 payment pause ends. Log in to your myGreatLakes account, and you'll be prompted to confirm enrollment in Auto Pay.

FAQs — Preparing for Repayment

Here are some questions and answers you may be wondering about as the COVID-19 payment pause winds down.

Review these Q&As to get ready to repay!

Making Payments

Visit your Welcome page and view the Repayment Planner section, which will display an estimated amount you'll pay each month once the pause ends.

Once you've logged in to your account, view the Account Summary section on your Welcome page to find your balance.

If you were in repayment before the payment pause, your monthly payment amount should not change unless you have applied for an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan or a recalculation of your IDR payment during the pause. If you were in a deferment or forbearance before the payment pause, it may be necessary to adjust your monthly payment amount to ensure you're able to repay your loan(s) within the remaining term.

We will only send you a new payment schedule if your prior payment amount is changing. If this applies to you, we will send your payment schedule approximately 32 to 44 days before your first payment due date.

Payments will begin after August 31, 2022. Your specific first payment due date will be listed on your Welcome page under the Repayment Planner section.

The 0% interest rate period and payment pause remain in effect through August 31, 2022. We'll send you a billing statement by either email or mail depending on your communication preference, approximately 21 days before a payment is due. Make sure your contact information is up to date in your online account.

Absolutely. Continuing to make payments during the payment pause allows you to take advantage of the 0% interest period and could help you pay down your loan balance more quickly. The full amount of a payment will be applied to your principal balance once you've paid all (if any) interest that accrued before March 13, 2020.

Sure! If you want to make payments during the payment pause while the 0% interest rate is in effect (through August 31, 2022), simply log in to your account and select Pay Online or use our mobile app. You can also mail payments to:

U.S. Department of Education
P.O. Box 790321
St. Louis, MO 63179-0321

Be sure to include your Payment Reference Number on your check.

In our Knowledge Center, we have an informative article called "How Payments Are Applied" that explains the order in which the amount you pay is attributed to principal and interest, including in cases where payments are not required or you pay more than is due.

To make payments using your bank's online bill pay service, make sure you arrange with your financial institution to resume payments by your due date.

If your bank's bill pay service requires an address to be entered when setting up the request, please use:

U.S. Department of Education
P.O. Box 790321
St. Louis, MO 63179-0321

Auto Pay

To determine whether you're currently enrolled in Auto Pay, log in to your Great Lakes account and select Manage Payments.

If you're not enrolled in Auto Pay, you can sign up through your online account.

Once Auto Pay is set up, you'll be notified of the date that Auto Pay will begin withdrawing your payments from your checking or savings account. This notification will be delivered to your Message Center.

No. If you haven't already, you must confirm that you want to remain in Auto Pay for your payments to be made using that method. If you do not elect to stay enrolled in Auto Pay by August 8, 2022, your Auto Pay will be cancelled, you'll lose the 0.25% reduction on your interest rate, and you'll need to make other payment arrangements when the COVID-19 payment pause ends. Log in to your account and you'll be prompted to confirm enrollment in Auto Pay.

Interest Capitalization

The interest rate during the entire COVID-19 payment pause is 0%, so no interest has accrued during this period.

Any previous unpaid interest will not capitalize (that is, be added to your principal balance) during the payment pause and through February 28, 2023, six months after the payment pause is scheduled to end. Great Lakes will reverse and delay any interest capitalization that has an effective date of March 13, 2020, through February 28, 2023.

For more information about interest capitalization, see "Top Six Ways to Reduce What You Owe" and scroll to section #2.

No. A non-capitalizing administrative forbearance was applied to your account to bring it up to date before the COVID-19 payment pause was applied. No interest capitalization occurred when the pause began.

If you had any accrued interest as of March 13, 2020 (when the payment pause began), it will not capitalize (that is, be added to your principal balance) during the payment pause and through February 28, 2023.

For more information about interest capitalization, see "Top Six Ways to Reduce What You Owe" and scroll to section #2.

Repayment Options

You may be eligible to lower your monthly student loan payment by enrolling in an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan. Under an IDR plan, payments may be as low as $0 per month. Apply for an IDR plan and select the box to be placed on the repayment plan that will provide you with the lowest monthly payment.

To help you find the best option for your situation, we will need to ask you some questions. Log in to your Great Lakes account and take the following steps from your Welcome page:

  • Select Repayment Options in the navigation bar.
  • Select on the best choice that fits your needs.

You may have heard about discussions in the federal government concerning loan forgiveness, or cancellation, for student loan borrowers. While there are several existing federal student loan discharge and forgiveness programs, there is no COVID-19-related loan forgiveness. At this time, all federal student loan borrowers who are in repayment are expected to start making payments after the payment pause ends after August 31, 2022.

Yes, months during which payments are paused and/or not due count toward PSLF as long as you meet all other qualifications. You will receive credit as though you made on-time monthly payments in the correct amount while on a qualifying repayment plan. Borrowers may receive credit toward PSLF during the payment pause if they later enter the PSLF program. For more information, review the COVID-19 Public Service Loan Forgiveness page on Federal Student Aid's website. We also encourage you to learn more about the limited PSLF waiver.

No — Great Lakes will help you for free! You never have to pay for assistance with your federal student loans. Contact us for free help with questions or concerns. Learn about our services and avoiding student aid scams.

Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) Plans

Yes, you can apply for an IDR plan during the payment pause. Your request will take effect September 1, 2022, the day after the payment pause will end. Applying now may help you by allowing you to base your IDR plan on your current income. If you apply now, you may also get your request processed before the potential rush of requests when payments resume.

If you're interested in applying for an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan, you may apply online at StudentAid.gov. You can also call Great Lakes at (800) 236-4300 to request an IDR plan over the phone.

IDR recertifications are now due no earlier than March 1, 2023. IDR plan annual recertification due dates occurring before March 1, 2023, are all now being pushed out by one year. For example, if your IDR recertification was due on October 1, 2022, the new recertification date is October 1, 2023.

Great Lakes will send you a notification with your new recertification date before it is time to recertify.

Yes, you can. If your income has changed significantly, you can request a new payment amount based on your current income. To do so, visit StudentAid.gov, select the button next to "Recalculate my monthly payment," and complete the recalculation request. You can also call Great Lakes at (800) 236-4300 to request an IDR plan recalculation over the phone. If you are approved for a lower payment, after the payment pause ends, your monthly payments will resume at the new lower amount.

Yes. Months during which payments are paused during the COVID-19 forbearance and/or not due count toward IDR forgiveness as long as you meet all other qualifications. For more information, review the COVID-19 IDR page on Federal Student Aid's website.

In-School and Grace Period Status

Check out StudentAid.gov for a summary of how the COVID-19 emergency affects students and in-school borrowers.

Your loan payments will remain suspended, and your interest rate will remain at 0%, until the end of the COVID-19 payment pause (that is, through August 31, 2022). For example, say your loans entered repayment after the end of your grace period on October 15, 2021. In this case, your payments would continue to be suspended from October 15, 2021, through August 31, 2022. The interest rate on your loans would be 0% during this period.

Unless you've requested a different repayment plan, your loan servicer will place your student loans in the Standard Repayment Plan when the payment pause ends.

If you have concerns about your ability to make your monthly payment amount when payments begin, consider income-driven repayment options. An income-driven repayment (IDR) plan may help provide a monthly loan payment amount is affordable.

If you're interested in applying for an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan, you may apply online at StudentAid.gov and select the box to be placed on the repayment plan that will provide you with the lowest monthly payment. You can also call Great Lakes at (800) 236-4300 to request an IDR plan over the phone.

Here are some other tips for getting prepared for repayment to begin after August 31, 2022:

Other Questions

If you had been granted a cancer treatment deferment prior to the beginning of the COVID-19 payment pause, your loan(s) was placed into the payment pause. If your cancer treatment deferment would have ended after August 31, 2022, your loans will be placed back into that deferment automatically on September 1, 2022. You will not need to recertify your cancer treatment deferment before payments restart. The earliest you might be asked to recertify is March 1, 2023. Great Lakes will send notification of your new recertification due date before it is time to recertify.

The 1098-E Student Loan Interest Statement is a record of your interest paid on your federal student loans for a given tax year. You can deduct some or all of your interest paid from your federal tax return, which could reduce the amount you pay in income tax.

Because few loan payments were required and interest rates were at 0% for much of 2020, most borrowers paid little to no interest in 2020 compared to previous years. And because the payment pause and 0% interest rate were extended to cover all of 2021 (and through August 31, 2022), most borrowers have not paid interest in — and will not receive a statement for — the 2021 tax year. Questions pertaining to your specific situation should be directed to your tax advisor.

Great Lakes' goal is to provide you with the best service possible. We're in this together. We're here if you need us.