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Money SmartsYouth & MoneyJune 11, 2020
Do you currently have student loan debt? Do you worry about how you are going to make your payments during Covid-19 and just don't know where to start? Here is some good news! Student loan borrowers now have more options to address the financial impact created by Covid-19. A new federal law, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, provides automatic suspension of principal and interest payments on federally-held student loans through September 30th, 2020. These suspended payments will count towards any student loan forgiveness program, as long as all other requirements of the loan forgiveness program are met. Here are some key things you need to know about how this may affect you.
If You're Current & Likely to Fall Behind
If you have student loan debt, you've probably heard that the new Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act gives some flexibility to federal student loan borrowers. Understanding these options can help you make more informed decisions about paying your bills and prioritizing your debts. The program is open from March 13th through September 30th, 2020.
If You're Current on Student Loans and Your Income is Secure
It would be best if you considered paying your federal student loans. Why? After September 30th. 2020 the outstanding principle balance plus all interest will begin to accrue. Your student loan balance is not going away. Current interest rates on government student loans are at a 0%, creating a unique opportunity to reduce your principle balance. If you can lower your student loan balance, you will save money over time. As the average daily balance used to calculate interest expenses will be less than usual. The more you can reduce your principal balance during this period, the more money you'll save over time. This is a unique opportunity - if you have the financial resources - to decrease debt significantly.
If You're Behind on Student Loan Payments
For your federally-held loans, you don't have to make a payment as they will be suspended until September 30th, 2020. For all other loans, including federal loans held by commercial lenders, schools, or other private lenders, you should contact your servicer to explore options.
If You're a Parent with Student Loans on Behalf of a Child
The relief programs for federal student loans mentioned above also extend to any parent loans taken out for a child, grandchild or other students — so long as the government holds them. This includes the suspension of payments, the halt to collections for delinquent loans, and even the awarding of credit toward student loan forgiveness, regardless of whether you suspend repayment. For a parent-focused rundown of the benefits currently offered as part of the coronavirus relief efforts, as well as what you might be able get from private lenders, check out this report on parent loans during the pandemic.
If You have Private Student Loans
Many private lenders have already implemented forbearance options that will allow borrowers to postpone monthly payments, some for up to 90 days. Some private lenders also are waiving late fees and will not file negative reports to consumer reporting agencies[JV5]. Some private lenders also offer their own reduced payment options. To find out what is available to you, contact your student loan servicer.
Now that you are aware of the new federal law, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, hopefully this acts as a resource that will assist you in deciding how to manage your student loans during Covid-19. You know how this may affect you, and now you won't be afraid to act on taking care of it.
Evans, Kristen. "What you need to know about student loans and the coronavirus pandemic." Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 2020, www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/blog/what-you-need-to-know-about-student-loans-and-coronavirus-pandemic
Lazarus, Ari. "Coronavirus and your student loan debt." Federal Trade Commission Consumer Information, 2020, www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2020/05/coronavirus-and-your-student-loan-debt