Paid off your federal student loan during pandemic? You could get a refund

43 million borrowers may get relief through President Joe Biden's latest student loan forgiveness plan. However, what you may not know is that if you've been making payments during the pandemic, you could get a refund.    

EXPLAINER: What student loans are eligible for forgiveness? Here's a breakdown

That's right.  If you paid off a federal student loan during the pandemic, or have been making payments on one, you may get a refund for those payments.

"I think my total loans are about $135,000 between the three of us," said Jamy Valadez, who has both federal parent and her own student loans.  "Of that $135,000, I think I have well over 40% in interest."

MORE: Paid your student loans during the pandemic? Here's how to get a refund

With so many parents and former students struggling with federal student loans, President Biden's forgiveness plan will forgive up to $10,000 of federal student loans per borrower, and up to $20,000 for those who received a Pell Grant.

"If you have a Direct Loan, it doesn’t matter if it’s a Parent Plus Loan, or a Stafford Loan, or a graduate loan or undergraduate loan," explained Betsy Mayotte, President and founder of The Institute of Student Loan Advisors.  

If your loan balance is below that $10,000, or $20,000 respectively, such as $5000, then only that $5000 will be forgiven.  Eligible borrowers must have an adjusted gross income below $125,000 or $250,000 for couples.

The U.S. Department of Education will announce how to apply in early October.  And it says if you apply before November 19, 2022, you can expect forgiveness by year's end. But forgiveness does not apply to private loans, or to federal loans that were already paid off before the pandemic.

But here's what many borrowers don't know.  If you made payments on federal student loans during the COVID-19 pause on payments that has continued since March 13, 2020, you can apply for a refund of those payments.

"To be clear, you can only get the refund for payments made since March 2020," said Mayotte. "And only if your loans were eligible for the COVID-19 waiver to begin with."

RELATED: Houstonians have mixed feelings about Biden's plan to forgive student loans

But note, if you still owe more than $10,000, you would get forgiveness up to that $10,000, before you'd get a refund on pandemic payments.

Meantime, watch out for scammers, already reported to be calling, emailing, and texting, saying they can help you get loan forgiveness.

"There’s no fee you can pay, or anyone you can work with that can you get you the debt relief any faster," warned Mayotte.


Borrowers can sign up to receive updates and information on how to apply at

Federal income taxes will not apply to federal student loan forgiveness. However, some states say they will tax the amount as income.  Texas does not have a state income tax, so no tax on loan forgiveness will apply.