Student loan relief efforts during the COVID-19 crisis

April 10th, 2020 by

Do you have federal student loans? If you do, you may have visited sites like myfedloans.org this week, checking to see if you need to make your April payment. Will your payment be auto-debited from your empty bank account? What if you’ve been laid off, or your paycheck has been reduced, or your job is now insecure? Have you joined the ranks of the non-essential? Before you lose your mind, consider what measures your government representatives are doing for you:

FedLoanServicing is trying to navigate the challenges posed by the spread of COVID-19. FedLoanServicing is working with the US Department of Education to enact the relief efforts that have been announced through the CARES Act.

Borrowers (anyone with a federal student loan) need take no action, it is not required that you “sign up” for the following relief:

  1. Every federal student loan now has an interest rate of 0%. You may have noticed that your interest rate is maybe 6% or 7% so if your loan is as gigantic as mine is, that’s a lot of interest. Again, this relief is automatic.
  2. Every federal student loan is automatically in forbearance. All borrowers will have their payments temporarily suspended. This is called Administrative Forbearance. The administrative forbearance will last from March 13, 2020, through September 30, 2020. Is your federal student loan payment debited from your bank account each month? Direct debit payments are automatically suspended during the administrative forbearance.
  3. If you are on Public Service Loan Forgiveness, and you work for a qualifying employer, during the suspension you will receive credit toward your PSLF payments, just as though your on-time monthly payments were made.
  4. If you are on Income-Driven Repayment, your suspended payments will count toward your IDR forgiveness.

If you wish to make a payment, which is your choice but you don’t have to, you may request that your administrative forbearance be removed. If you make a payment during this 0% interest rate period, the full amount of your payment will be applied to the principal, once all of the interest accrued prior to March 13, 2020, is paid.

If you made a payment after March 13, 2020, either via your online account or via direct debit, your processed payment can be refunded.

This is all good news, and all of us FedLoans borrowers should keep an eye on the myfedloan.org website for updates. Another good resource is to find information is from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau whose site shares information about tools you can use to protect your finances during the coronavirus pandemic.

Written by Joan van Oss

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