CORONAVIRUS: Pause on Student Loan Payments Without Penalty

The CARES Act provided more than 37 million borrowers with relief from the financial pressure of making monthly payments and accruing interest on most federal student loans. The U.S. Department of Education extended this relief for student borrowers until September 30, 2021. Here’s how this works:

  • The CARES Act suspends payments and interest accrual for all federal student loan borrowers with Direct Loans and Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL loans) that are held by the Department of Education for 6 months (through September 30, 2020), meaning such borrowers will not be required to make any payments toward outstanding interest or principal.
  • If you have a federal loan, you can go online to the Education Department’s website to see if your loan is eligible. (Borrowers with commercially-held FFEL loans and Perkins Loans are not eligible, and private student loan borrowers are also not eligible, but if your federal loan is not eligible, you can consolidate your loan into a new Direct Loan to become eligible.)
  • During this period, eligible student borrowers who have defaulted will not be subject to involuntary collections (garnishment of wages, tax refunds, and Social Security benefits) and will not have any negative credit reporting for late payments during this time period.
  • Eligible student borrowers will continue to receive credit toward Public Service Loan Forgiveness, Income-Driven Repayment forgiveness, and loan rehabilitation even though they will not be making payments.
  • Starting in August 2020, student loan borrowers will receive notices to help inform them that their regular loan payments will resume at the end of September 2020. These notices are meant to provide a transition period to help borrowers stay on track as regular loan payments begin again and to enroll in other relief options like Income-Driven Repayment.

If borrowers want to continue making payments during this time to pay down principal and previously accrued interest (since no interest is accruing as of March 13, 2020), they are free to do so.

Learn more about these resources through the Department of Education here, the National Consumer Law Center here, and the Institute of Student Loan Advisors Corporation here.