CARES Act calls for clemency for U.S. college students sidelined by coronavirus
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Besides bringing relief to American citizens and businesses, the new CARES Act, signed into law in late March, provides financial lifeboat for college students who have been sent home from their campuses by the coronavirus.
Students who permanently moved out of their dorms for the semester should reach out to their school’s housing department to ask about refunds. Some colleges and universities are offering prorated reimbursement for paid accounts, or discounted payment plans for tuition, room and board yet unpaid.
Students or parents concerned about college loan repayment should keep an eye out for ongoing news from the U.S. Government and Department of Education. The first lifeline extended to families:
Student loan payments halted through Sept. 30
To provide relief for student loan borrowers during the COVID-19 national emergency, all federal student loans are automatically placed in administrative forbearance, allowing students and their families to temporarily suspend making monthly loan payments.
From March 13, 2020, through Sept. 30, 2020, the interest rate is 0% on the following types of federal student loans owned by the U.S. Department of Education:
Defaulted and non-defaulted Direct Loans
Defaulted and non-defaulted FFEL Program loans
Federal Perkins Loans
Other loans are held by commercial lenders, and some Perkins Loans are owned by the student’s university. Set up payment plans directly with the institutions, as those loans are not currently eligible for government loan benefits.
Answers to other coronavirus questions
“Since neither my family nor I can go to work during the shutdown, my financial need for college has increased. Can I get more financial aid to pay for college-related expenses, either this spring or next fall?” Talk to the financial aid office at your school. College officials have financial flexibility to ensure that students are able to finish degrees.
“Will I still get paid for the hours I am unable to work for my Federal Work-Study job?” Your school may pay you or allow you to work by other means, such as doing jobs online or remotely. Contact the school for more information.
“What if I have other questions about paying for college expenses at this time?” First, check your school’s website for resources and contact information. Then, call the Financial Aid Office to negotiate decreases in fees for unused room, board and other college-related fees. For more assistance, contact your private loan companies, visit StudentAid.gov/login or call 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243).