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New Data Shows Federal Student Loan Borrowers Face Confusion in Resumption of Payment

New Survey Data from Embold Research, Sponsored by SoFi, Shows Federal Student Loan Borrower Confusion and Misconceptions Around Resumed Payments

Understanding the current state of federal student loan repayment

In October 2023, federal student loan borrowers received their first bill in nearly three-and-a-half-years, following the end of the student loan moratorium. Throughout the payment pause, significant dialogue and updates to student loan-related policy took place, including various loan forgiveness initiatives, new income-driven repayment plans, and forbearance extensions.

To gain a deeper understanding of the current landscape for student loan borrowers following the resumption of their bills, Embold Research conducted a study, sponsored by SoFi, that surveyed 1,006 federal student loan borrowers nationwide from February 29 – March 11, 2024. Notably, the research was completed before the Biden Administration proposed a new set of rules aimed at providing student loan debt relief for certain borrower groups on April 16, 2024.

Key insights from the survey showed the following:

•  Nearly 40% of federal student loan borrowers have not resumed payments since the end of the moratorium in October 2023. Borrowers report a variety of challenges to repayment including: financial strain, confusion over government policy (especially, related to broad-based loan forgiveness), the need to adjust their budgets, and feelings of anxiety or stress.

•  Nearly half of borrowers report that they have changed their plans for repayment due to public discourse on loan forgiveness.

•  A majority of borrowers believe that the federal government has not been effective in communicating about the end of the moratorium and their repayment options.

•  This belief is particularly pronounced among borrowers without a Bachelor’s degree and those from lower-income households. These borrowers are less likely to feel they understand the details associated with their loans and are much less likely to be aware of alternative repayment programs, such as income-driven repayment (IDR) plans, intended to help those from lower-income households.

What does the data tell us?

First and foremost, borrowers are facing numerous challenges in paying their loans, with some not submitting a payment at all.

Importantly, the data shows that public discourse surrounding student loans and the guidance and communication borrowers receive are leaving them confused and influencing their payment trajectories. This heightens the already stressful burden of student debt, leaving some borrowers without the information they need to make informed decisions or not take any actions to pay down debt.

Finding a path forward

Without clearer guidance, borrowers can miss out on repayment programs that may help them effectively navigate loan repayment, like income-driven repayment plans, refinancing options and more. Failure to manage these payments effectively can have long-lasting repercussions, impacting credit scores, financial stability, and future ability to borrow for other important life purchases like a home or car.

At SoFi, we understand that many of our members are facing these same challenges. SoFi’s mission is to help our members get their money right and that includes educating borrowers about fundamental details associated with student loans.

If you have questions about federal student loans or repayment options, visit SoFi’s Student Loan Debt Guide for more information or SoFi members can work with a certified financial planner at no additional cost.

For more details on the survey, visit

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