Updated on 10/17/2022
The pause on federal student loan payments and interest has now been extended through December 31, 2022, and additional plans have been announced to cancel a portion of federal student loan debt. Throughout the moratorium (and even before), scammers have preyed on borrowers who have taken a financial hit due to the pandemic or are hoping for student loan forgiveness. How can you be sure you’re getting accurate information? Here are some ways to safeguard your finances and personal information to avoid becoming a victim of student loan scams.
“Don’t call us, we’ll call you.”
Whether you are contacted about your student loans by phone or email, always verify the information you receive. Hover (don’t click!) over an email link to see where it is actually taking you. Many times the URL is full of gibberish or takes you to a site with a different name than the sender of the email indicates – a definite red flag for a scam. If you receive a phone call about your loan, inform the caller you will need to call them back and take down their information. Then go directly to your lender’s website or a recent loan statement to verify the phone number/web address – does it match? Do not provide information to a number other than the one listed by your lender!
Federal Student Aid (FSA) has implemented a single phone number where you can access your federal student loan information: 1-800-4-FED-AID.
You also can reference information from these trusted sources:
- The U.S. Department of Education: https://studentaid.gov/
- Your lender/servicer’s website – find information on a recent statement, or for federal loans, visit https://studentaid.gov/manage-loans/repayment/servicers
- Your college’s financial aid office
Note: Any private student loans you hold will be accessed separately through your lender’s website(s).
Student Loan Debt Cancellation and Forgiveness
On August 24, 2022, the Biden Administration announced that federal student loan borrowers who earn less than $125,000 per year, or households earning less than $250,000, are eligible for debt cancellation up to $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients and up to $10,000 for non-Pell Grant recipients. You can learn more about the announcement in our blog post or at https://studentaid.gov/manage-loans/forgiveness-cancellation/debt-relief-info.
A short online application for this student debt relief initiative is now available – never pay a fee or give information to an outside entity who promises to deliver student loan debt assistance! Make sure you work only with the U.S. Department of Education and its loan servicers, and never reveal your personal information or account password to anyone.
Emails to borrowers should come from email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com. You can report scam attempts to the Federal Trade Commission by calling 1-877-382-4357 or by visiting reportfraud.ftc.gov.
Prior to this announcement, student loan forgiveness was limited to very specific groups:
- Borrowers who attended now-defunct schools that took part in deceptive or illegal practices
- Borrowers with total and permanent disabilities
- Certain public servants who benefit from changes to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program
The U.S. Department of Education also offers a few student loan forgiveness and cancellation programs. If you are contacted with a message about qualifying for student loan forgiveness, remember – if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. You can always verify student loan forgiveness information directly through the Federal Student Aid site or your servicer.
Again, keep in mind that the majority of these situations apply to federal student loans, not private student loans.
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