Can’t afford to resume federal student loan payments? Here are options

Federal Student Loan payments resume February first after being paused through the pandemic. But a new survey reveals many borrowers won’t be able to afford the payments or are looking for higher-paying jobs.

75% of borrowers say their finances will be negatively impacted when federal student loan payments resume, according to a survey. 32% say they’re cutting spending, 26% are looking for higher-paying jobs, 25% are looking for side hustles, and 19% are selling personal possessions.

"When it gets tricky is when life events happen, and you don’t really have the money, and you’re going on maternity leave, or your father is sick," said school counselor Jeanett Pritchett.


Prichett knows the struggle of trying to pay off $65,000 in student loan debt.

"How much goes toward the principal versus the interest, it’s just depressing," she laughs. "You just feel like you’re married forever to this thing!"


Pritchett says she has turned to PSLF Jobs, a consulting company, to help her reapply for Public Service Loan Forgiveness now that the program has been overhauled.

" I created as a platform for borrowers to go and know the jobs they’re looking for qualify for loan forgiveness," explained PSLF founder and CEO Jason DiLorenzo.

After 94% of applicants for loan forgiveness were rejected, the Department of Education is temporarily allowing borrowers to count payments toward any federal student loan or repayment plan toward the 120 payments needed to qualify. Applicants must also certify that they work full-time in the military, government, or a 501c3.

"If you worked for a qualifying employer for four years and then stopped working for a little while for whatever reason, or starting working for a for-profit, or went down to part-time, you could pick back up the progress toward the ten years required for PSLF," explained DiLorenzo.


A survey finds 75% of federal student loan borrowers say they’re scrambling to be ready to start making payments, which average $222 a month. 

Sarah Foster with Bankrate says borrowers might consider income-based repayment plans, or to cut monthly expenses.

"Maybe some of them are going back to the office and don’t need to pay for as fast of an internet as before. Maybe some Americans are using subscription services," Foster suggests.

Pritchett has her fingers crossed she’ll be approved for loan forgiveness, hoping for about $25,000 in relief. Meantime, she advises her students to try to avoid taking on student loans.

"When you’re saying, Yah, I want to go to this school, and sure I’ll take out $20,000 in loans, you do not understand how that impacts your quality of life," Pritchett said.

DOWNLOAD THE FOX 26 NEWS APP FOR THE LATEST ALERTS explains which jobs qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness. offers both paid and free resources in finding PSLF jobs and qualifying for loan forgiveness. offers the following options to borrowers who can’t afford their scheduled payments:

Income-driven repayment plans: There are several types of income-driven repayment (IDR) plans available through the federal government, which base your monthly payment on your family size and discretionary income for a set number of years — 20 or 25. These plans can be particularly helpful if you’re not earning as much as you were prior to the pandemic.

Deferment or forbearance: The current payment pause is classified as an "administrative forbearance," and it doesn’t count toward your normal forbearance limits. If you’re in between jobs or struggling to make any payment at all, you can apply for additional months of payment relief with your lender.

Loan consolidation: While consolidating your federal loans into a Direct Consolidation Loan won’t save you any money, it can lower your monthly payments, since you’ll have the option of extending your repayment term.

Refinancing: If you took out your student loans when interest rates were high, you may choose to look into refinancing with a private lender. Refinancing with a private lender will cause you to lose the benefits above, so it’s not the right choice for many federal borrowers. If you can get a low-interest rate, however, refinancing could help you accelerate your repayment.