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Federal Student Loans During the Coronavirus Epidemic

The CARES Act that was signed into Law provides significant relief to student loan borrowers who have Direct Loans or FFEL Loans that are held by the government. (This relief does not apply to other types of loans, such as private student loans, Perkins Loans, and FFEL loans held by private guarantors, like banks).

Here is an overview of the relief provided:
  • Student Loan Payments are suspended from March 13 until September 30, 2020
  • This suspension is automatic; you do not need to make a request to have your payments suspended.
  • If you have automatic payments set up, please read the TIPS below.
  • The payments that you would have made from March to September that have been suspended will still count towards loan forgiveness under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program and the Income Driven Repayment Loan Forgiveness.
  • If you made a payment on or after March 13, you may be able to ask your servicer for a refund.
  • No interest will be charged on your loans
  • This means that the balance on your loans will be the same when your payments start again as it is now.
  • If you choose to continue making payments, each payment will reduce the principal balance owed and your loan will be paid off more quickly.
  • All collections actions are suspended
  • The government has stopped any wage garnishment, benefit offset, or tax return offset retroactive to March 13, 2020
  • Even if your loans are in default, the government will not try to collect until September 30, 2020.
  • Any student who withdraws from the school as a result of COVID-19 will have their loans discharged for the term during which the student withdrew.
  • Almost all schools have a process you must complete to formally withdraw from school. Contact your school to find out what steps you have to take to complete the formal withdrawal process.

Private Student Loans During the Coronavirus Epidemic

If you are a New York State Resident, the NYS Department of Financial Services has reached an agreement with a number of private student loan lenders, including Navient, Nelnet, PHEAA, MOHELA to aid student borrowers. This means that almost all private student loans are making some assistance available to borrowers.

These lenders have agreed to provide the following relief:

  • Providing a minimum of 90 days of forbearance relief for borrowers;
  • Waiving late payment fees for borrowers;
  • Ensuring no borrower is subject to negative credit reporting;
  • Ceasing debt collection lawsuits for 90 days; and
  • Working with eligible borrowers to enroll them in other applicable borrower assistance programs.

However, getting this relief is not automatic. You must contact your loan servicer to ask for the relief. Your servicer may also ask you to provide proof that you are experiencing hardship. Different services might need different information to show you are experiencing hardship.

TIPS

  • Make Sure You Know the Type and Status of Your Loans by visiting https://studentaid.gov/.
  • Need help understanding your loans? If you live in New York City, make a free appointment with a financial counselor from a financial empowerment center by visiting https://www1.nyc.gov/site/dca/consumers/get-free-financial-counseling.page to set up an account and make an appointment. You can also call 311 to make an appointment – ask for financial counseling.
  • Create an online account with your loan servicer.
  • Services may use their own portals to send you important messages so make sure you check your servicer account regularly.
  • Not sure who your servicer is? Check your most recent bill or visit https://studentaid.gov/.
  • If you have an automatic payment set up to pay your student loans every month, you may want to cancel that automatic payment if you need to devote the funds to other expenses.

Need More Information?

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In response to the COVID-19 crisis, we are still working hard and our intake lines are open, but please note that our physical office is closed.

During these unprecedented times, we’ve launched a free NY COVID-19 Legal Resources Hotline and compiled the latest legal and financial counseling updates.