An important concern of college students and graduates during the COVID-19 crisis is the status of their student loans. Last month, I voted for the CARES Act, which includes provisions designed to assist many student loan borrowers during this difficult time.
United States Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced Thursday that more than $6 billion will be immediately distributed to colleges and universities to provide direct emergency cash grants to college students whose lives and educations have been disrupted by the coronavirus outbreak.
The CARES Act provides nearly $14 billion to support postsecondary education students and institutions. Colleges and universities are required to utilize the $6.28 billion made available to provide cash grants to students for expenses related to disruptions to their educations due to the COVID-19 outbreak, including things like course materials and technology as well as food, housing, health care, and childcare.
Below are some FAQs about student loan relief under the CARES Act.
Be sure to share this information with those in your life who may be affected by this information. If you have any questions, please click here to send me an email directly, or click here to contact my office by phone.
Do I need to make student loan payments during this crisis?
The CARES Act provides relief to most federal loan borrowers. It suspends payments and interest accrual on most federal loans until September 21, 2020. This suspension of payments will not adversely impact borrower’s eligibility for loan forgiveness. The CARES Act also suspends debt collection on federal loans, including prohibiting wage garnishment, tax seizure, and benefits reduction. The Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid is providing updates here. You may also call them at 1-800-872-5327 for more information. Borrowers who still desire to pay their student loans, may continue to do so.
While debt collection is paused for eligible federal student loans, debt collection may continue for other consumer loan obligations.
What types of student loans are covered?
All student loans owned by the Department of Education are covered under the CARES Act. This includes having interest waived and payment suspended. Eligible loans may include Direct Loans, Perkins Loans, and Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program loans held by the Department of Education. FFEL Program loans owned by private lenders, and some Perkins Loans, owned by the college or university you attended, are not covered. Private student loans also are not eligible for protection, but you may contact your private student loan provider to see if they will provide payment or interest relief.
Who should I contact if my servicer is still taking my student loan payments?
If you’re having issues with your student loans, you may want to contact your student loan servicer first. To learn who your student loan servicer is, call Federal Student Aid at 1-800-433-3243.
If your student loan servicer is unable to assist you, you can submit a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) through their complaints webpage. You can also contact the CFPB at (855) 411-2372.
What about third parties offering assistance in accessing the student loan relief provided in the bill?
Please be cautious regarding individuals or companies offering to cancel or lower your student loan payments in exchange for an upfront fee. Borrowers with federal student loans struggling to make their payments can access free various repayment programs offered by the Department of Education.
For information on income-driven repayment plans, visit the Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid webpage. You can learn how to avoid student debt relief scams here. To contact the Department of Education regarding defaulted loans, you can call 1-800-621-3115.
Please know that my office and I stand ready to assist you and our region during this time of need. Together, we will come through these times stronger. For comprehensive information and resources to help you, your family, and you community during these difficult times, click here to visit my Coronavirus homepage.