RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (ValleyCentral) — After nearly two years of student loan repayments and interest being on hold on, the Biden administration announced the firm resume date of May 1.

Although payments have not been required since 2020, Louie Betancourt, a 2008 South Texas Vocational Technical Institute graduate has been paying his every month.

Betancourt took out $15,000 in student loans to secure his pharmaceutical education.

In the years after graduation, Betancourt was able to cut down his total to $5,500. He added, prior to the pandemic, paying off his debt was a concern as his interest rate was between 8% and 12%.

“I would send a $50 payment. About half or more than half would go to the interest alone, so I never got to see it [total bill] go down,” said Betancourt.

However, when the forbearance period was announced on March 20, 2020, Betancourt said, “I started making payments. I mean, whether it was $25 or $50. Once when I started to my principal balance go down more and more even though it was little amounts, I started to contribute more and more.”

In 2021 alone, Betancourt has paid over $1,000 of interest-free student loans which put him under his goal of $3,000 at the start of the new year. He hopes to continue making payments while the forbearance period is still available and pay off his student loans by March.

Jose Sanchez, the Financial Aid Office Director for UTRGV, told ValleyCentral able graduates should be taking advantage of the forbearance period while it lasts because the payments made will fully impact your principal balance.

If you find yourself struggling to make payments once student loans resume, Sanchez recommends talking with your loan servicer about what options you may have.

Sanchez added if you decide to change loan servicers, it will not affect your student loans at all because each one is contracted through the federal government and they follow the same guidelines.