Lutheran Social Service Financial Counseling Offers Guidance to Student Loan Borrowers

Friday, September 02, 2022

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government put a pause on federal student loan payments — also known as a forbearance — beginning with the passage of the federal CARES Act in March 2020. Forbearance has since been extended through December 31, 2022. This means that borrowers can temporarily stop making student loan payments if they choose.

In October 2021, the U.S. Department of Education put a temporary waiver into place for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PLSF) Program, making changes to how past payments were counted, and allowing time for Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL)  to be consolidated into Direct Loans so they may also qualify for PSLF. Government and 501c3 non-profit employees interested in Public Service Loan Forgiveness must complete a PSLF Application Form, have it signed by their HR department and submit it to the MOHELA Loan Servicing by October 31, 2022.

In addition to the temporary waiver to PSLF and extending forbearance, the U.S. Department of Education provided targeted student loan forgiveness based on a borrower’s income, and it created a new plan to make loans more affordable for low- and middle-income borrowers.

While the targeted loan forgiveness will completely wipe out debts for some, others will still have loan payments starting again in 2023. With payments resuming, borrowers will need to assess whether they can afford payments. If they can’t, then they will need to look at repayment options such as an Income Driven Repayment Plan, additional forbearance or deferment.

Certified financial counselors with Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota (LSS) are available to support student loan borrowers at no cost to them. They can work with individuals one-to-one to evaluate their financial situation, address challenges with making payments and develop a realistic, achievable plan for when collections resume. They can also answer questions around the temporary PSLF Waiver and help people understand the steps they need to take to qualify. Student loan counseling is completely confidential.

“We are here to assist student loan borrowers with understanding their repayment options,” said Shannon Doyle, program manager with LSS Financial Counseling. “Each individual has a unique situation. We work to develop the best solution for making payments achievable and getting back into good standing if someone has defaulted on a loan.”

Chris, an individual who worked with an LSS Financial Counselor, said, “I could finally see that my student loan payments were going to disappear someday, thanks to working with my LSS Financial Counselor.” Through LSS Financial Counseling, Chris created a realistic budget and learned how to stay on target for saving money, pay off credit cards and reach other financial goals. In just two weeks after meeting his LSS Financial Counselor, Chris was firmly on the road to a future free of student loan debt. Read Chris’s entire story.

LSS Financial Counseling’s Student Loan Counseling Service is available to all Minnesotans, free of charge. To set up a phone or virtual  appointment, call 888.577.2227, email or visit