Information for student loan borrowers
Principal and interest payments on federally held student loans are automatically suspended through September 30, 2021.
The state of student loans during the COVID-19 pandemic
What you need to know
- Interest and monthly payments on federally held loans are suspended through September 30, 2021.
- You do not need to contact your student loan servicer or take any action on your federally held student loans.
- Make sure your servicer has up-to-date contact information and check your mail or email so you can receive any updates or information about your loans.
- Suspended payments through September 30, 2021 will count towards any student loan forgiveness program, as long as all other requirements of the loan forgiveness program are met.
- The Department of Education has stopped the collection of defaulted Direct and FFEL federal student loans.
- The Department of Education has expanded the 0% interest rate to defaulted FFEL loans and made it retroactive to March 13, 2020.
Find out if you qualify
The student loan payment and interest suspensions generally only apply to federal student loans held by the Department of Education.
Some federal student loans under the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program are owned by commercial lenders, and some Perkins Loans are held by the institution or school you attended. Your FFEL lender or school may choose to suspend interest and payments on a voluntary basis, but they are not required by law to do so. You can contact your servicer to find out if these options are available to you.
What to do if you have federally held student loans
You don't need to take any action. From March 13, 2020 through September 30, 2021, the interest rate is set to 0% and payments are suspended for student loans owned by the federal government. If you are financially able to make payments or continue making payments on your student loans, any payments you made or make after March 13, 2020 will be applied directly to principal once all the interest that accrued prior to March 13, 2020 is paid. This will help you pay off your loans faster.
If you made a payment toward your federally held student loans during the payment suspension, beginning March 13, 2020, you can request a refund from your student loan servicer.
If you are working toward Public Service Loan Forgiveness
If you are working toward Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) you need to be aware of a few key items. Only Direct Loans are eligible for PSLF. All Direct Loans are owned by the federal government. For Direct Loans, even though payments are suspended, those suspended payments through September 30, 2021 will count as though you had made a payment toward loan forgiveness programs as long as the other the PSLF program requirements are met.
If you have other types of federal loans and are working in public service, you can consolidate most, if not all, of those loans into a Direct Consolidation Loan, which is eligible for PSLF if other program requirements are met.
If someone contacted you to pay a fee to suspend your payments
You do not need to pay someone to help with your student loans. You should also be aware of these warning signs to help you avoid student loan debt relief scams and how to get help.
What to do if your federal loan is held by commercial lenders or your school
Some loans under the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program are owned by commercial lenders, and some Perkins Loans are held by the institution or school you attended. FFEL lenders and schools may choose to offer interest and payment suspension benefits. If you have FFEL or Perkins loans, you should contact your student loan servicer for more information.
Perkins loan borrowers can request forbearance from their institution, not to exceed three months. This forbearance counts toward the cumulative three-year maximum allowed for Perkins loan forbearance. Additionally, you are not required to provide documentation to be considered for forbearance.
Federal student loan borrowers can consider . Depending on your income or family size, your payments could be as low as $0. You may be able to enroll online without calling your servicer by visiting . If you are already enrolled in an income-driven repayment plan but are experiencing a change in income, ask your servicer to recalculate your monthly payment.
If you are still required to make a payment that you can’t afford and you only need a temporary pause on payments, investigate whether deferment or forbearance is an option for you. Servicers can grant a 90-day forbearance to borrowers who are experiencing financial difficulties due to the pandemic. If you are still unable to make a payment after 90 days, you can request to renew this forbearance. Putting your loans into a deferment or forbearance will not result in negative credit reporting.
If your federal student loan is already in default
The Department of Education previously stopped the collection of defaulted federally held student loans, including garnishment of wages and the offset of tax refunds and Social Security benefits, through September 30, 2021.
On March 30, 2021 , the COVID-19 emergency relief measures were expanded to all federal student loans made through the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program that are in default, regardless of whether they are privately or federally owned.
If you have Direct or FFEL loans in default, the Department of Education will refund any wages garnished or tax refunds seized since March 13, 2020. If you made voluntary payments on your defaulted Direct Loans or FFEL Program loans since March 13, 2020, you can request a refund for those payments.
If you defaulted on your FFEL Program loan since March 13, 2020, your interest rate will be set to 0% retroactively from March 13, 2020 and you can request a refund for any voluntary payments you made. Your loan will be returned to good standing and your guaranty agency will request the credit bureaus remove the default from your credit report.
What to do if you have private student loans
Many private lenders have already implemented forbearance options that 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. Some private lenders also offer their own reduced payment options. To find out what is available to you, contact your student loan servicer.