How To Get A Refund On Student Loan Payments


If you paid down your educational loans during the pandemic, the Biden Administration’s student loan forgiveness plan may have brought out mixed emotions. (Such as: “Of course that happened after I paid off my student loans.”)

Fortunately, you might be able to get a refund on your student loan payments. 

Here’s what to know.  

Is there such a thing as a federal student loan refund?

Yes, there is!  

Iif you voluntarily paid toward your federal student loans during the COVID-19 forbearance period, you may receive a refund. The period began on March 13, 2020, and may end as late as August 2023. 

The zero-interest forbearance period will end 60 days after litigation around the Biden administration’s student loan forgiveness plan resolves, as late as August 2023.) 

Note that you don’t have to qualify for student loan forgiveness to get a refund. However, if you don’t receive forgiveness, those refunded payments will be added back to your loan balance. 

Who is eligible for student loan refunds?

Borrowers who voluntarily made payments toward eligible student loans after March 13, 2020, can receive a refund. Eligible student loans include:

·      Direct loans 

·      Federal Perkins Loans held by the U.S.Department of Education (ED)

·      Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) loans held by the ED

·      Defaulted FFELP loans not held by the ED

·      Defaulted HEAL loans

However, federal student loans that are not held by the ED aren’t eligible for refunds or for the Biden administration’s student loan forgiveness plan.

For instance, private student loans do not qualify for student loan refund payments. Payments on FFELP or Perkins loans held by commercial lenders or the school of attendance are also excluded.

How much of a student loan refund can I get?

According to the Department of Education: “You can get a refund for any payment (including auto-debit payments) you make during the payment pause (beginning March 13, 2020).” 

Bear in mind that any refund amount not covered by student loan forgiveness will be added back to your loan balance. However, if you qualify for forgiveness and a refund, you may receive both.   

Are student loan refunds considered taxable income?

Thanks to the March 2021 COVID-19 relief package, student loan debts forgiven before Jan. 1, 2026, don’t count as taxable income federally. Also, you likely won’t incur taxes on refunds that don’t qualify for forgiveness, as they’ll increase your loan balance. 

However, several states have indicated that federal student loan forgiveness, including refunded payments, may incur a state income tax bill

Do student loan refunds affect your credit score?

In theory, no – student loan refunds shouldn’t affect your credit score. However, whether they will or not depends on how the ED reports refunds and/or forgiveness to the credit bureaus.   

How to request a student loan refund

The process to request a federal student loan refund is fairly easy. Here’s where to begin. 

Check if you’ve already received your student loan refund

Some people automatically received their federal student loan refunds after the student loan forgiveness plan was announced. If you’ve received a full refund already, you don’t have to take further action.

Collect student loan documents and information

If you haven’t received a refund yet, you’ll need to gather some important information, including your:

·      Address

·      Social Security Number

·      Bank payment information and/or student loan payment confirmation numbers

Generally, your student loan payment confirmation numbers are in your payment history under your loan servicer’s portal. Likewise, your bank payment information should be in your bank’s portal or on your bank statements.

Contact your student loan provider 

When you have your information ready, the next step is contacting your loan servicer. 

If you’re not sure how to contact your loan servicer, the ED maintains a list of service providers and phone numbers here. You can also call the Federal Student Aid Information Center for assistance at 1-800-433-3243. 

Once you’ve reached a representative, you’ll likely have to verify your account by providing your SSN or other personal information. Then, let your servicer know that you’d like to request a refund of some or all your eligible payments. You may also have to provide payment confirmation or bank payment numbers for specific payments. 

Ask whether you need your student loan refund payment

If you made voluntary student loan payments during the pandemic, getting a refund can put some much-needed cash in your pocket. 

But remember that if you don’t qualify for forgiveness, or if the forgiveness plan fails in court, you’ll have to repay your refund later. As such, you should ask yourself whether you really need that refund before you spend it. 

Alternatively, you might request your refund and stash it in a high-interest savings account. Then, if or when your repayment period begins, you can at least claim a little interest on your refunded payments. 


How long does it take to get a student loan refund?

Once you request your refund, you should expect to receive the money within 6-12 weeks. However, some borrowers have reported receiving their federal student loan refund payment much faster.

Why did I get a student loan refund check?

Some borrowers received their student loan refund payment automatically. If that’s you, congratulations! But remember that if you don’t receive student loan forgiveness, that refund will add back to your loan balance. (So spend – or save – wisely!)

Where can I cash a student loan refund check?

Depending on the size of your check, you may not be able to cash it just anywhere. Generally, the bank or credit union where you do business can cash larger checks.

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