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Newsweek: Student Loan Forgiveness Update: Hack Could Save You Thousands in Payments

Student Loan Forgiveness Update: Hack Could Save You Thousands in Payments

For the thousands of borrowers who will have to start paying back their student loans again next month, Democratic Rep. Katie Porter of California has a tip that will help them soften the likely blow to their personal finances.

Student loan payments were first paused by then-President Donald Trump in March 2020 as a relief measure for struggling borrowers during the pandemic. The break on payments was then extended nine consecutive times, lasting a total of three years—until now.

Interest on loans started accruing again on September 1, while the 43 million Americans estimated to hold a combined $1.75 trillion in student debt will have to resume payments starting on October 1.

Porter published a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, last week raising awareness of the guide her office put together to help borrowers stay on top of their payments and possibly lower them.

According to the California Democrat's guide, targeted at the estimated 3.8 million Californians who collectively owe more than $142 billion in student loan debt, people could save as much as 0.25 percent on their interest rate by enrolling—or re-enrolling—in Autopay.

"Autopay is optional, but if you choose auto, you will save 0.25% on your interest rate," the document put together by Porter's office reads. "If you sign up for autopay on your servicer's website, you will get a reminder every month ahead of each withdrawal."

AutoPay is an optional way of repaying student loan debt automatically, as the name suggests, available to both federal and private student loan borrowers. With AutoPay, student loan payments are automatically paid from borrowers' bank accounts and their interest rate is 0.25 percent lower.

For example, a borrower who owes $50,000 in student debt would have an annual discount of $125. While in the grand scheme of things it's not a huge saving, it can make a crucial difference for people struggling to get to the end of the month.

While this system is great for ensuring borrowers never miss a payment, it might not work for everyone. AutoPay starts issuing borrowers' student loan payments in October, while the Biden administration has offered a 12-month "on-ramp" to repayment, giving struggling borrowers until September 2024 to start repaying their debt.

During this time, interest will still accumulate, but people won't be reported for missed payments and their credit score will remain unaffected.

AutoPay might also not be feasible for people who don't think they can have the amount of money necessary for the student loan payment in their bank account every month.

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), more than one in 13 student loan borrowers is currently behind on their other payment obligations, while about one in five student loan borrowers has risk factors that suggest they could struggle when scheduled payments resume.

The Biden administration had tried to pass a debt relief plan that would have forgiven $430 billion in student debt, but this was struck down by the Supreme Court in late June.

In a 6-3 decision, a majority of the justices said the Biden administration was overstepping its authority in trying to cancel or reduce student loan debt for millions of people.

Newsweek contacted Porter's office for comment by phone on Tuesday.