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What borrowers can do as student loan payments halt again

The Biden administration has extended the pause on student loan payments again. The deadline was supposed to be May 1 -- now borrowers have another four months.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — It's official.

The Biden administration has extended the pause on student loan payments again. The deadline was supposed to be May 1; borrowers now have another four months.

If you are among the nearly 37 million borrowers that haven't had to make payments on your student loans since March 2020, listen to this. The Federal Reserve estimates borrowers in all saved nearly $200 billion so far.

Experts say this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for borrowers, but not all are able to take advantage.

“I really, really want to get the airlines, I really want to fly professionally,” said Brayden Deemer an air transportation major at Ohio State University.

For Deemer, his career goal is sky-high.

So is his student loan debt.

"Once you're a pilot, you're going to make, hopefully, those big bucks, and you can pay it back. So I've been going through with that mindset of just like, my number one priority is getting my education done, and getting my certificates getting my licenses. And, you know, hoping that I'm able to get a good-paying pilot job in the future,” he said.

Deemer will begin paying off his loans when he graduates.

According to educationdata.org, there are 1.7 million student borrowers who live in Ohio.

Now, many will be able to put off paying down their debt -- for even longer. The Biden administration extended the pause on student loan repayment, interest, and collections to September.

RELATED: Biden administration extends student loan payment pause

Experts say a lot has changed in the last two years and first, you’ll want to make sure you know which loan servicer you have.

“You might be working with a new federal student loan servicer four months from now, completely different than the one that you were working with before the pandemic,” said Sarah Foster, a Bankrate analyst.

Next, experts suggest using this time to pay off other high-interest debt.

“If you don't have high-interest debt and if you're not pursuing a forgiveness program, such as Public Service Loan Forgiveness, then this is an amazing opportunity once in a lifetime really, to pay down that debt as much as possible as 0% interest rate,” said Betsy Mayotte from the Institute of Student Loan Advisors.  

And, if you can, invest that monthly payment in your 401K or in a high-yield savings account.

"Depending on how you invest and depending on your risk tolerance, there's potential to earn additional interest from that money growing, wherever it's invested,” said Samuel Eberts, financial advisor, Dugan Brown in Dublin.

Experts also say be careful of scams -- they tend to pick up whenever there's a big announcement like this. Bottom line-- there's almost never a reason to pay anyone for help 

“There isn't a person on the planet that can get you access to a forgiveness program or a lower payment that you can't do yourself for free directly through your servicer or a nonprofit like mine or the Department of Education,” Mayotte said.

The Ohio State University extension is offering free, virtual workshops for student loan borrowers. The Zoom classes are free to anybody regardless of where they live. 

Pre-registration is required and you can learn more by clicking here. The Student Loan Debt workshops are scheduled on the second Tuesday of every month from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

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