HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — For the first time in more than three years, people with Federal student loans will need to make a payment this month.

Payments were paused amid the COVID-19 pandemic, to give people a financial break. However, the pause officially ended on October 1st.

The break was “nice while it lasted” according to Huntsville resident and master’s degree holder, Grant Davis.

Another man News 19 spoke with said while he doesn’t have loan payments, he can’t imagine adding another monthly expense.

“Speaking for myself, I’m 29, single and paid pretty well for my age, and even so it’s really hard for me to imagine tacking on anything on top of rent and my car payment, cost of groceries and utilities, wifi, all of that adds up to so much,” said Mitch Ledbetter. “I’m fortunate that I don’t have student loans, but I wonder for many of my friends, where they’re going to get the money from. I really don’t know.”

Dr. Wafa Orman, an Associate Professor of Economics and Associate Dean of the College of Business at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, said monthly payments should fall around 5% of the monthly income for a typical household.

“For a lot of these people, yes it will sting some, but also for most people, it should be something that they can afford,” Orman said.

She said the first thing people should do is to log onto their Federal Student Aid account to check in on all of their loans and see if anything has changed.

“Make sure of who is servicing your loan and that you are sending your payments to the right place,” she said.

Orman also encourages people to take a look at the different repayment options.

Saving on Valuable Education, or SAVE, is the newest income-driven repayment plan. It calculates your monthly payment amount based on your income and family size.

“The SAVE program is more generous than prior income-based repayment programs, so like I said, I think everybody should see if they qualify for it,” she said. “Even if it can reduce your payments a little bit, that can still help” Orman added.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, while you may have been assigned a specific type of repayment plan, you can change your plan at any time for free.

Click here to learn more about the different repayment plans.