Options and resources for student loan borrowers who are impacted by coronavirus.

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Federal Student Loans

On March 27, 2020, the federal government passed the CARES Act, which provides relief for most federal student loan borrowers, effective March 7, 2020, and lasting through at least September 30, 2020.

The current student loan borrower relief package includes the following, which will be done automatically by your loan servicer:

  • suspension of payments (you will not be required to make payments)
  • stop to all interest accrual (effectively, your interest will be 0% for this period)
  • All months, even if no payment is made, will count toward loan forgiveness programs, like Public Service Loan Forgiveness, and loan rehabilitation (if you are not currently enrolled in any of these programs, consider calling your servicer to ask for more information)
  • No negative credit reporting for suspended payments (this relief won’t hurt your credit score)
  • end to debt collection activity, including wage garnishment (money that was recently taken will be returned)
  • Any payments borrowers choose to pay will be applied to the loan account (if you choose to make payments, they will be used to pay down the balance of your loans)

It may take your servicer several days or weeks from the federal government’s announcement to reflect these changes on your account, but your servicer should go back and make any necessary corrections to make the relief effective starting March 7, 2020.

The CARES Act applies to loans that are owned by the federal government only. This includes all Direct Loans and some Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) loans. Covered borrowers will receive a notice detailing the program by April 11.

The CARES Act does not apply to federal loans owned by private companies, such as Perkins Loan borrowers and some FFELP loans. Call your loan servicer to confirm which of your loans are covered by the CARES Act and to find ask what relief options are available for loans that are not covered.

Private Student Loans

Washington borrowers with commercially-owned Federal Family Education Program Loans or privately held student loans who are struggling to make their payments due to the COVID-19 pandemic may be eligible for expanded relief

The Washington State Department of Financial Institutions has secured relief options with many private student loan servicers (see list below) to expand on the protections the federal government granted to federal student loan borrowers. Relief options include:

  • Providing a minimum of 90 days of forbearance
  • Waiving late payment fees
  • Ensuring that no borrower is subject to negative credit reporting
  • Ceasing debt collection lawsuits for 90 days
  • Working with borrowers to enroll them in other borrower assistance programs, such as income-based repayment.

Private Student Loan Servicers Providing Relief

  • Aspire Resources, Inc.
  • College Ave Student Loan Servicing, LLC
  • Earnest Operations
  • Edfinancial
  • Kentucky Higher Education Student Loan Corporation
  • Lendkey Technologies, Inc.
  • Navient
  • Nelnet
  • SoFi Lending Corp.
  • Tuition Options
  • United Guaranty Services, Inc.
  • Upstart Network, Inc.
  • Utah Higher Education Assistance Authority
  • Vermont Student Assistance Corporation

All private loan borrowers must call your servicer to get any relief. Until your servicer knows you need help, they may not be able to give you relief. Remember, you may have loans with multiple servicers, so be sure to call all of your servicers so that you get relief for all your loans.

How Do I Know If My Loans Are Federal or Private?

You can go to National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) and log in to find a list of all of your federal loans. NSLDS will not list any of your private loans. You can also contact your loan servicer and ask which of your loans are private.

What Should I Do If I Can't Reach My Student Loan Servicer?

Contact the Student Loan Advocate at the Washington Student Achievement Council. The advocate can help you do some of these things without having to call your servicer and can help connect you with someone at your servicer if needed.

Additional Resources