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How to get a refund on any federal student loan payments you made during the pandemic

  • You can get a student loan refund for any payments you made during the pandemic.
  • It’s simple: Call your student loan servicer to claim your refund.
  • If you still have a balance owing, getting a refund might not make financial sense.

Alongside $10,000 to $20,000 in student-loan forgiveness per federal borrower, President Biden’s student-loan relief plan includes a cash surprise for borrowers who made payments during the pandemic.

If you continued to make payments on your federal student loans during the pandemic, you’re eligible for a refund for the total amount you paid since March 13, 2020.

However, your overall payoff journey might be affected if you do receive a refund.

Call your servicer to claim your student loan refund

Here are the numbers to call your student loan servicer:

Student loan servicer Phone number
FedLoan Servicing (PHEAA)* 1-800-699-2908
Great Lakes Educational Loan Services, Inc. 1-800-236-4300
Edfinancial  1-855-337-6884
MOHELA 1-888-866-4352
Aidvantage 1-800-722-1300
Nelnet 1-888-486-4722
OSLA Servicing 1-866-264-9762
ECSI 1-866-313-3797
Default Resolution Group 1-800-621-3115 (TTY: 1-877-825-9923 for the deaf or hard of hearing)

*Borrowers serviced by FedLoan Servicing were recently transferred to MOHELA or Nelnet. Check your inbox to make sure you can log into your account.

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Why you might not want to ask for a student loan refund

For borrowers with a balance, the amount you’re refunded will get added back to your student loan principal balance. For example, if your current balance is $15,000 and you’re receiving a $3,000 refund, your principal balance will change to $18,000.

If this is your situation, you might not want to ask for a refund for one key reason: the cost of capitalized interest.

During the pandemic payment pause, federal student loans stopped accruing capitalized interest. Capitalized interest is the unpaid interest at the end of each billing cycle that gets added to the principal balance. It’s the reason student loans take so long to pay off if you continue to pay the minimum monthly payment.

Because student loans stopped accruing interest during the pandemic, all of your payments went directly to the principal balance of your loans. On the other hand, going back to our $3,000 refund example, if you add $3,000 to your student loan principal balance, that amount will continue to accrue capitalized interest again in the long run.

Check to see if your refund is less than your student-loan forgiveness amount

First, check your payment history on your student loan servicer’s website to see the total amount you paid during the pandemic. If that total amount is less than $10,000 — or $20,000 if you received a Pell Grant — and you meet the income requirements for student-loan forgiveness, it may make sense to claim your refund.

The refund amount that will be added back to your principal balance will be canceled before federal student loans start accruing interest again on July 1, 2023.

Whether you still have a student loan balance or not, refunds will be issued via direct deposit. The Federal Student Aid website doesn’t include information on how long it will take to receive the refund, but Insider will continue to update this story.