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Wondering where to begin with student loan payments? Lincoln-based national nonprofit fields questions

Posted at 6:46 PM, Sep 08, 2023

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — A nonprofit based in Lincoln that offers student loan support says they're getting a lot of calls lately. The borrowers have plenty of questions because student loans need to be paid again beginning in October.

"A lot of them thought that their loans would be forgiven," said Mia Dehnert. "There's some misinformation and they're just not sure what to do. So we're getting a lot of ... should I just not pay my student loans? What's the next step?"

Dehnert is a supervisor at Inceptia, a nonprofit in Lincoln that helps with student loans.

"I know that it might seem scary," she said about student loans restarting, "but there are so many resources and tools that have come out now."

At studentaid.gov, for example, there are loan simulators for either finding the cheapest overall strategy or if you can't afford the monthly payments.

But it all starts with the company the government assigned to handle your loan: the loan servicer. By default, loans start on a standard plan to pay it off in a decade, Dehnert said. Some have had their servicer change during the pause, she said. Borrowers can find out who the company is at studentaid.gov if they haven't found a letter or an email.

"Reach out to your service and get connected with them to find out if that payment's affordable for you," she said. "And if it's not, work with them to get a lower repayment plan."

There are income-driven plans, too, which also take into account family size. The newest is the new SAVE plan. In the SAVE plan, if your payment doesn't cover all interest, the unpaid interest doesn't get added to your balance. Learn more about that plan here.

Those plans, after a certain amount of years of payments, can be forgiven. Dehnert said there are forgiveness plans more should know about, including for nonprofit workers, government workers and teachers.