Paying off student debt can be confusing and stressful if you don't understand what type of loans you have and what your options are. Experts say you should move quickly to get this information to see what relief and flexibility there might be for you during the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis.
The first thing you'll want to do is identify what type of student loans you have. Are your student loans federal or private (non-federal), or a mixture of both?
Federal student loans are loans made or guaranteed by the Department of Education. They typically have names like Direct Loan, Stafford, PLUS or Perkins. They are the most common type of student loan.
Private or non-federal student loans are any other type of student loans. They can be made by a bank, a credit union, a state student loan agency or a college or university. They may have names like "alternative" or "institutional" loans.
You can have both kinds. Many student loan borrowers have both private and federal student loans. Repayment options for each type of loan are usually different.
You can also call the Federal Student Aid Information Center, 1-800-4-FED-AID, TDD 1-800-730-8913. The Center’s counselors can help you figure out what types of loans you have.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has a private student loan ombudsman and an on-line student loan assistant tool: https://www.consumerfinance.gov/paying-for-college/repay-student-debt/#Question-1
The Department of Education also has information about the differences between federal and private student loans: https://studentaid.gov/understand-aid/types/loans/federal-vs-private
You can also get information about your student loans by checking your credit report. Be aware, however, that some loans, particularly older loans, may not appear on the credit report.
FTC Credit Report Help: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0155-free-credit-reports