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How the CARES Act Affects Your Student Loans

The new Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act includes important provisions that may affect your student loans.

Federal student loan payments are suspended until September 30, 2020. This means that you will not be required to make any payments on your student loans for the next few months. And more importantly, you will not be penalized for not making payments during this period. Your credit score will not be affected. You do not need to take any action to take advantage of this temporary suspension; your payments will be automatically suspended by your student loan service provider. Please note, however, that this suspension applies only to federal student loans—not private student loans. To determine whether your student loans are eligible for this temporary suspension, please reach out to your loan service provider. 

In addition to a temporary halt on payments, the interest rate on federal student loans has been reduced to 0% until September 30, 2020. Your federal student loans will not accrue interest during this period.

If you defaulted on your federal student loans, the CARES Act provides a temporary reprieve by suspending enforcement or collection practices. Your wages, Social Security benefits, and tax refunds cannot be garnished or seized until September 30, 2020. If you are in default, it is important to use this suspension period to get out of default, if possible.

If you are participating in the public service loan forgiveness program, you may be concerned that not making payments on your federal student loans during the suspension may affect your ability to receive loan forgiveness. Fortunately, this is not the case. Your non-payment through September 30, 2020 will be counted toward the 120 payments for public service loan forgiveness purposes. 

Conclusion

If you have federal student loans, the CARES Act gives you some important tools to respond to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. You can use the money that would normally go towards your loan payments for more critical needs, like food or housing. But if you are in a position to keep making loan payments, you are free to do so.

To learn more about the CARES Act, click here.