The novel coronavirus and accompanying economic downturn have taken a significant toll on households, businesses, and institutions of higher education nationwide. In response to the pandemic, payments, interest charges, and collection efforts for most federal student loan borrowers were paused at least through Sept. 30. But once this pause expires, many borrowers will have to navigate personal financial challenges and a confusing federal student loan repayment system.

A look at how student loan borrowers fared during the Great Recession—which officially ran from December 2007 through June 2009—can help policymakers understand the novel coronavirus’s potential impact on repayment outcomes. With that downturn, much of the increase in student loan delinquency occurred after its technical end and as the economy was recovering. For example, the share

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