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Federal student Loans

The U.S. Department of Education announced that all borrowers with federally-held student loans will automatically have their interest rates set to 0% for at least 60 days.

All borrowers with federally-held loans may also request to suspend their payments for at least two months, and delinquent borrowers will have their payments automatically suspended. The Department of Education also announced that they have stopped the collection of defaulted federal student loans for at least 60 days.

Here are some key things you need to know about how this may affect you.

Do I need to apply to take advantage of the interest waiver?

No. Federal student loan borrowers do not need to take any action to receive the interest rate waiver. Your federal student loan servicer will waive the interest without any action from you. You do not need to contact your student loan servicer.

Will my payment go down automatically?

No, and your payments will be due as usual unless you contact your servicer. Although your federal student loans are not accruing interest, your payments are set on a schedule and you will not see a decrease in payment amount due. But if you continue to make payments, you will pay off your loans faster because the entire payment will be applied to principal.

If you think you may have trouble making your payments, some of your options are discussed below.

Does the interest waiver apply to all of my student loans?

No. The interest waiver applies only to student loans that are held by the federal government, which are the vast majority of student loans issued since 2010. The interest waiver does not apply to student loans owned by banks, credit unions, schools, or other private entities.

Someone contacted me to apply or pay a fee for the interest waiver. Is this a scam?

The federal government will not contact you to fill out paperwork to take advantage of the interest waiver. There is no action required of you. If someone contacts you to fill out paperwork or asks for money to process this information, it is a scam and you should report them to the FTC’s complaint assistant .

You do not need to pay someone to help with your student loans. You should also be aware of these warning signs to help you avoid student loan debt relief scams. The advisory also has information on getting help if you are a victim of a scam.

Tip: Don’t know who services your loans?

Don’t know who services your loans?For federal student loans, you can find your servicer by visiting the Department of Education’s website . For private student loans, look at your latest billing statement or check your credit report.

I can’t afford my student loan payments, what should I do?

If you don’t think you will be able to afford your payment, contact your servicer or look for information on your servicer’s website to find out about your options.

FEderal student Loans

You may want to investigate income-driven repayment plans if you are not already enrolled. Depending on your income or family size, your payments could be as low as $0. You may be able to enroll online without calling your servicer by visiting: https://studentaid.gov/app/ibrInstructions.action .

If you only need a temporary pause on payments because you know you will not be able to make payments in the near future, investigate whether deferment or forbearance are an option for you. Now that federal student loan interest is waived, forbearance and deferment are options that are quite similar. During forbearance typically, your interest will still be accruing during your forbearance period. Under this guidance from the Department of Education, there will be no interest accrued on your loan for at least 60 days. There are time restrictions on deferment so if you would like to postpone payments, an interest-free forbearance may be a better option.

Private student loans

Contact your servicer to find out what options are available to you. Some private lenders offer their own reduced payment options. Many servicers offer ways to postpone your payments, such as forbearance.

I’m already enrolled in an income-driven repayment plan for my federal student loans but can no longer afford my payment, what should I do?

If you are experiencing a change in income, ask your servicer to recalculate your monthly payment. You can call your servicer or fill out forms online .

If your income has not changed but you are facing unexpected expenses or other financial distress, you can postpone your payments by arranging a forbearance. And, during the interest suspension, a forbearance will not result in any interest accrual on your federally-owned loans. You can fill out forms on your servicer’s website or call your servicer for assistance.

I am working toward Public Service Loan Forgiveness, what impact can this have on my progress?

If you are working toward Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) you need to be aware of a few key items. If you continue to make payments, your payments will still count toward the loan forgiveness as long as the PSLF program requirements are met. However, if you choose to defer your payments or place your loans in forbearance, those months will not count toward the PSLF payment requirements because no qualifying payments are being made. But the PSLF program does not require that the 120 qualifying payments be consecutive. So borrowers who choose to defer their payments or place them in forbearance would be able to make qualifying payments again after the deferment or forbearance period ends.

I am delinquent on my federal student loans. Is there anything I can do?

If you are more than 31 days past due on your federally-held student loans or become more than 31 days delinquent, your servicer will automatically place your loans into forbearance. If this happens, your servicer will notify you and explain the details.

The Department of Education also announced that they have stopped the collection of defaulted federal student loans for at least 60 days starting on March 13th. There is no additional action required from you for your federally-owned loans. For all other loans you may have, contact your servicer to find out about your options.

When do I need to contact my servicer?

If you are experiencing hardship or a loss of income and can’t afford your payment, you need to contact your servicer. They can discuss options with you. For all other matters, see if you can find out information on your servicer’s website then call your servicer if you need additional help.

This blog is available at https://www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/blog/what-you-need-to-know-about-student-loans-and-coronavirus-pandemic/.

Thank you,

Office of Public Engagement and Community Liasion
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau 


Virginia Counselors Association
316 Hodges Cove Road, Yorktown, VA 23692 | Ph: 757.766.5466 | Fax: 757.766.5467 | vcaoffice@cox.net