Student Loan Repayment during the Coronavirus Outbreak
Updated October 13, 2022 (*Please note: ISAC strives to keep the information on this page as up-to-date as possible, however for the latest announcements from the Department of Education, visit https://studentaid.gov/announcements-events/covid-19)
Students with federal student loans
A federal stimulus bill to address the impact of the Coronavirus was passed by Congress and signed into law on March 27, 2020. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides additional flexibility for student loan borrowers during the Coronavirus Outbreak, including automatically suspending payments and interest accrual on all federally-held student loans until September 30, 2020. That relief was extended by President Biden through August 31, 2022, and more recently through December 31, 2022.
Please note that the student loan provisions in the CARES Act apply to many, but not all federal student loans. We encourage borrowers to contact their student loan servicer to see if their loan(s) are affected by this legislation. Detailed updates and an FAQ for students, borrowers and parents, is available at studentaid.gov/coronavirus.
Students with private or other federal loans not covered by the CARES Act
If you applied for or received a federal student loan after June 30, 2010, it is most likely a federal direct student loan and would be covered by the relief provisions of the CARES Act. To find out what kind of loan you have, contact your loan servicer (the company or agency to which you make your payments).
On March 30, 2021, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced that it will expand the 0% interest rate and pause of collections activity to 1.14 million borrowers who defaulted on privately-held Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program loans. This relief was made retroactive to March 13, 2020, the start of the COVID-19 national emergency.
According to the ED announcement:
“The Department will work to automatically return any tax refunds seized or wages garnished over the past year. Borrowers who made voluntary payments on any of these loans during the past year will have the option to request a refund of those amounts. The Department will also work with the guaranty agencies, who hold these defaulted FFEL Program loans, to implement the 0% interest rate for these borrowers.
In addition, any of these loans that went into default since March 13, 2020, will be returned to good standing. The guaranty agencies that hold those loans will assign them to the Department and request that the credit bureaus remove the record of default.”
If you hold federal student loans that are not already eligible for all the benefits available under the CARES Act, you do have the option to consolidate loans that are not covered by the Act into a federal direct loan. But borrowers should carefully review their options before consolidating: Consolidation may or may not be more advantageous to a borrower, depending on their particular loans. Borrowers should contact their loan servicer to evaluate their options.
For more information about student loan relief for borrowers in Illinois, check out this fact sheet from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation at https://bit.ly/2yK5ZnS
“Fresh Start” for Defaulted Borrowers
The recent extension of the pause on student loan repayment issued on April 6, 2022 also allows all borrowers with paused loans to receive a “fresh start” on repayment by eliminating the impact of delinquency and default and allowing them to reenter repayment in good standing. ISAC will update this page as we get further guidance from the U.S. Department of Education on how this will be implemented.
How do I know what kind of student loan I have?
If you are not sure what type of loan you have, and/or you are having trouble making payments on your student loan, contact your loan servicer. You may qualify for a different repayment plan with a lower monthly payment or, as noted above, be eligible for a deferment or forbearance so you can temporarily stop making monthly payments.
If you are not sure who your loan servicer is, access your loan history through studentaid.gov or call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at (800) 433-3243.