As some pandemic aid ends, what's next for hurting Americans

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FILE - In this Oct. 14, 2020, file photo, housing activists erect a sign in front of Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker's house in Swampscott, Mass. A moratorium put in place by the Centers for Disease Control in September that protects certain renters from eviction expires at the end of the year. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)

Americans who struggled through 2020 could face more hardship in the year ahead as pandemic related payments and protections come to an end.

Expanded unemployment benefits will cease by the end of the year, reducing much-needed income for as many as 12 million Americans. Federal eviction protection will expire as well. And student loan payments, which had been paused since March, are scheduled to resume in January.

Meanwhile, the pandemic shows no signs of abating and broad distribution of any vaccine is likely months away. Both sides in Congress have shown interest a new relief package, they’ve been unable to reach an agreement and time is running short.

Here’s what you should know about the changes ahead and how to cope:

STUDENT LOANS

The U.S. Department of Education suspended payments for federal student loans, stopped collections on defaulted loans and set interest rates at 0% in March. This relief period concludes at the end of the year, unless extended by the government.

Loan servicers are expected to start contacting borrowers in early December about resuming payments, said Mark Kantrowitz, a financial aid expert with the website Savingforcollege.com.

If you don’t hear anything, contact your servicer to find out about the status of your loans.