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3 people on how ending the COVID-19 student-loan forbearance will impact their lives and finances

  • The CARES Act student-loan forbearance period comes to a close at the end of September.
  • Insider spoke to three people with between $14,000 and $185,000 in debt about how this impacts them.
  • “With the forbearance ending, student-loan forgiveness is my best bet,” Glenda Johnson said.

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Millions of Americans are still recovering from the financial turmoil of the pandemic. 

As part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, some student loan borrowers were granted forbearance — a pause on monthly payments.

The relief, however, is coming to an end soon: Borrowers must restart making payments after September 30. 

Insider spoke with three people about how the end of COVID-19 student-loan forbearance will affect their lives and finances.

Camryn Hicks, 25, has $14,250 in student-loan debt and lives in rural Maine

Camryn Hicks.

Camryn Hicks


I graduated from Boston College in 2018 with a degree in business and marketing. I’m part of the first generation of women in my family to go to college, and had some financial assistance in the form of loans and grants.

But I didn’t know what my student-loan payments would look like later when I was signing up for them.

When I graduated, I got a job working on a re-election campaign for Elizabeth Warren. I was able to start paying my loans off right away, and have never missed a payment. Warren dissolved her presidential campaign right around the time COVID-19 started to spread, so I ended up moving back in with my parents and starting a new job remotely. 

During the forbearance, I’ve been able to make large lump-sum, principal-only payments on my student loans using my stimulus checks. Because of the forbearance, I’ve been able to start playing catch-up with my finances. When my car was stolen, I was able to replace it, and I also opened a retirement account. 

For me, the forbearance period was a taste of what cancellation would feel like. The conversation around student loans, I think, focuses too much on the individual, and if that one person is going to be able to pay the debt they signed up for. But it’s an economic problem, not a personal one. 

My parents took out hundreds of thousands of dollars in Parent PLUS loans to send both my sister and myself to school. Student-loan debt isn’t a personal burden, it’s a family burden. 

In many ways, student loans perpetuate wealth inequality — where the people who don’t have to take them out get a head start. I think we need to stop splitting hairs over who’s worthy of relief. 

Glenda Johnson, 32, has $36,693 in student-loan debt and lives in Charlotte, North Carolina

Glenda Johnson.

Glenda Johnson


When I graduated from college in 2011, my student-loan balance was over $50,000, and I’m still paying back most of it.

I’m fortunate because throughout the pandemic, I’ve had a job. I make about $49,000 a year working in the sales department of a big tech company and also freelance on the side.

Most of my loans were in an income-based repayment plan before the forbearance. The forbearance has been able to keep me afloat, because for over a year I haven’t had to worry about being able to make my payments or not.

A few of my loans didn’t qualify for forbearance, so I’ve still been making payments on those. 

With the forbearance ending, student-loan forgiveness is my best bet. The job market I graduated into isn’t what they told us it would be when I was in school, and it’s a lot of money to repay when I’m not seeing a rise in income. 

Having to make payments again will weigh heavy on me, but I’m staying positive that there will be a solution somewhere — whether it’s me getting a promotion, or getting more money from my side gig.

I remain hopeful because the conversation around student loans is changing, but for whatever reaso

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