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How to get relief from federal student loans due to COVID-19

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In response to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19), the Student Loan Payment Pause is extended through May 1, 2022, by the Biden-Harris Administration.

The extension includes:

  1. A suspension of loan payments
  2. A 0% interest rate
  3. Stopped collections on defaulted loans

The pause on student loan payments is expected to help 41 million borrowers save $5 billion per month.

Student loans eligible for payment extension

  • Direct Loans (defaulted and nondefaulted)
  • Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program loans held by ED (defaulted and nondefaulted)
  • Federal Perkins Loans held by ED (defaulted and nondefaulted)
  • Defaulted FFEL Program loans not held by ED
  • Defaulted HEAL loans

Private student loans are not covered by the temporary relief measures.

How to get relief from student loans during the COVID-19 Crisis

Payments on eligible loans are automatically paused and your interest rate is set to 0% starting March 13, 2020. This payment pause, also known as the administrative forbearance, will end on May 1, 2022.

During the period of no interest, the full amount of your payments will be applied to the principal. This means that you are likely to pay your balance down more quickly during this zero-interest period.

You don’t have to request the zero percent interest rates. The department will automatically adjust your account so that interest doesn’t accrue. The account adjustment was effective on March 13, 2020.

If you make loan payments during the 0% interest period, the full amount of your payments will be applied to your principal balance once you’ve paid all the interest that accrued prior to March 13, 2020, and any fees (for defaulted loans).

The Department of Education and your servicer will contact you ahead of time to remind you when you need to start making payments again. Borrowers will receive a billing statement or other notice at least 21 days before their payment is due, according to the Department of Education. Borrowers with automatic payments may need to notify their loan servicing company they want those to continue.

Final thoughts

These are emergency measures to address borrowers that may experience financial hardship due to the coronavirus outbreak. The Department of Education may decide to extend the zero percent interest rates and the automatic forbearance relief measures.

If the option for an administrative forbearance is extended, your loan servicer will communicate information about the extension to you.

The situation remains fluid so check the Department of Education’s site for updates.

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