FARGO — In March of 2020 — the start of the COVID-19 pandemic — the federal government suspended all federal student loan payments and lowered interest rates to 0%.

Now 17 months later, several different expiration dates have passed. The next is set for Sept. 30. But what does that mean for former students who haven't needed to make loan payments for over a year?

WDAY News sat down with North Dakota State University director of financial aid and scholarships Matt Sanchez.

"I think the bigger concern is making sure that it's a seamless transition for student borrowers back into repayment," Sanchez said. "Obviously, students were paying their student loans before the moratorium, so we just want to make sure that there's a seamless transition back into those repayments."

While the pandemic has come in waves, federal student loan forbearance has remained a constant. When it comes to an end, whether that's on Sept. 30 or later, Sanchez says there is action students can take if they aren't able to bear the financial burden.

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"For those students who are having the type of financial difficulty, explain that to their loan servicer so that hopefully they can continue with suspension of payments until they get themselves in a better financial situation," said Sanchez.

Sanchez also has a suggestion for former students in good financial standing.

"Borrowers obviously want to log back in to their student portal or their loan servicing portal and make sure that their information is up to date with their servicer," said Sanchez.

While he's unsure if the forbearance will be extended, Sanchez said even if it is, it never hurts to be prepared.