WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Millions of Americans will start accruing interest Friday on their student loans ahead of payments resuming on Oct. 1.
"So, today actually starts the billing cycle. Interest is going to start to accrue as of today," Paul Oster, a credit repair specialist and CEO of "Better Qualified," said.
The first college loan re-payments will be due on Oct. 1 for the first time since they were put on pause during the pandemic.
Oster said about 20% of borrowers who graduated college during the pandemic will be new to loan payments.
As student loan interest resumes, some worry about impending payments
"Even if you're struggling to make the first payment, try and make the first payment on time," Oster said.
For those worried they will struggle to make these payments, there is some help available.
"The Biden administration launched a new SAVE Repayment program," Oster said. "Look, there's always been an income-based repayment program in place. Unfortunately, a lot of students weren't aware of it or they certainly didn't take advantage of it. So basically, it is going to help borrowers only pay back what they can truly afford."
Borrowers can go to studentaid.gov for the details.
Americans in certain professions, like teachers, medical professionals and government employees, can apply for loan forgiveness there as well.
"It made the old plan even better for borrowers," Oster said. "The average borrower might save up to $1,000 per year."
However, outside of that government website, Oster warns that borrowers need to have their guard up.
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"The bad actors are coming out in full force," Oster said. "They're using texting, emails, phone calls, to pray upon borrowers to say, 'Look, we can help you. All you have to do is pay us certain fees."
He advises borrowers to ignore all of those calls and emails.
For those who don't already have a game plan for tackling these payments, Oster said it's time to put a budget in place. He recommends thinking about what subscription services you have but don't need and cut back on spending.
Figure out where the money is gonna come from," Oster said. "We're all in for a little bit of a downturn, but the people who actually plan for the downturn will be much better off coming out of the recovery for sure."