(WKBN) – Trying to figure out how to repay student loans can be frustrating. With the repayment pause set to expire at the end of the month, you might be trying to figure out how to pay loans you haven’t paid on in a while, or trying to figure out how to repay student loans you accrued during the pandemic.

Local financial adviser Christopher Mediate says it’s important to not wait on payments.

“You don’t want to default. You never want to not make an effort to repay your student loans,” says Mediate.

He says you should start looking at your budget and that student loan repayments shouldn’t be more than 8% of your budget. But if you’re struggling, he suggests getting on the phone with your loan servicer.

There are options for payment plans, including 20 or 25 year options where the balance is forgiven as long as you’re making consistent payments. But even if the pause is extended, it’s a good idea to keep making payments.

“You have this great opportunity to pay no interest so you can really start getting into your principle,” says Mediate.

Even small amounts can help. Patrick Hoffman, the director of Youngstown State University’s financial aid, stressed that staying in touch with your loan servicer is key even if you’re a recent grad.

“We usually encourage students to keep up with their student loan servicer,” says Hoffman.

If the administration does decide to forgive some or all of the student loan debt, Mediate says having one less bill is a great way to start planning for your future, such as setting up an emergency fund or putting money into retirement savings.