Notice: We are still operating during the COVID-19 crisis. However, we are not allowing visitors to our office and most of our staff is operating remotely. Our attorneys and staff are still available to help you by phone and email. If you get our voice mail, please leave a message and it will be returned promptly. There may be delays with mail due to the crisis, so please try to send documents by email after submitting a contact form here or fax to 312-419-0379, if possible.

Department of Education Action on Student Loans during Coronavirus Outbreak

1. The CARES Act provides that most federal student loan borrowers – those whose loans are held by the federal government – will automatically receive a waiver of their payments and zero percent interest through September 30, 2020. Persons who have loans under the Federal Family Education Loan Program, where the government guarantees the loan but it is held by a bank or other private lender, do not get this relief. FFELP loans were made prior to July 1, 2010. To determine who holds your FFELP loan, you can ask your servicer or look up the loan at www.studentaid.gov and see if the Department of Education is the lender.

2. If you do make payments on a loan covered by the CARES Act, they go 100% to principal. If you made payments after March 13, 2020, you can request that they be refunded.

3. Persons in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program do not have to make payments until after September 30, 2020 and will have the period count toward the 120 on-time payments necessary for loan forgiveness anyway. There is no benefit for persons in the program to make payments.

4. Private student loans and FFELP loans held by private lenders do not get any benefits under the CARES Act. You have to call the loan servicer and see if they are willing to offer anything. Most or all are willing to offer some relief. However, in many cases it is only a limited forbearance, which will usually result in interest continuing to accrue and may require a fee.

5. FFELP loans held by private lenders are still eligible for an income-driven repayment plan, under which payments may be as low as zero or a nominal amount, an unemployment deferment, or an economic hardship deferment.

6. Rehabilitation of a defaulted federal student loan normally requires nine on-time payments within 10 months. However, the CARES Act provides that the six months counts as if you made six rehabilitation payments. You still have to sign a rehabilitation agreement. It is not clear if you can enter a rehabilitation program now and have the six months count as payments. To get into loan rehabilitation, contact the collection agency to which your loan has been assigned. This information is also on www.studentaid.gov.

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