Coronavirus student loan payment and debt relief: What lenders are doing to help

Student erasing debt to represent student loan payment and debt reliefImage: Student erasing debt to represent student loan payment and debt relief

In a Nutshell

Your student loan lender may offer payment relief such as interest rate waivers, deferred payments or forbearance if your finances have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. We’ve collected information from many federal loan servicers and private lenders so you can find out what they’re offering and if you can get help.
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Many student loan lenders have stepped in to help support customers during the coronavirus pandemic.

If you need relief, we’ve compiled a list of major federal student loan servicers and private student loan lenders along with any assistance efforts and eligibility requirements they’ve laid out. Look for your lender on the list below.


Federal student loan servicers

Private student loan lenders


Federal student loan servicers

On March 27, 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act — which is meant to provide emergency public health and economic assistance — was signed into law.

Under the CARES Act, all principal and interest payments on federally held student loans was automatically suspended through Sept. 30, 2020. The reprieve was extended by President Donald Trump and, later, by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. 

In January 2021, President Joe Biden signed an executive action that extended the pause on federal student loan payments through Sept. 30, 2021. The U.S. Department of Education said it would continue the moratorium on payments through Jan. 31, 2022. The latest extension, announced in August 2021, means payments will restart in February 2022.

Privately held student loans — including Federal Family Education Loan Program, or FFEL, loans held by commercial lenders and Perkins Loans held by academic institutions — are ineligible for relief under the CARES Act.

Additional details about these relief efforts and how these changes may impact you should be available on Federal Student Aid’s coronavirus information page, so check it for updates.

Federal student loan servicers will process changes under the CARES Act automatically. You don’t need to contact your servicer to receive payment assistance. But note that your loan servicer’s website might not be updated with these changes yet, and it may take some time for your account to reflect the suspension of payments.

If you have additional questions about your account, here’s information for a number of loan servicers that may help.

ECSI

What it’s offering: Like all federal student loan servicers, ECSI will be processing payment suspensions on its federal student loan accounts. If you have questions about your account, you can contact the company at 1-866-313-3797.

EdFinancial Services

What it’s offering: EdFinancial Services has a COVID-19 information page that explains what the company is doing to help both its federal and private student loan customers. If you have questions, you may contact EdFinancial Services at 1-855-337-6884.

If you have a private student loan with EdFinancial Services, the company may be able to help you lower your monthly payments. To get more information, you can log into your account online and select “Repayment Options” from the “Payments” menu; send an email; or call 1-855-337-6884.

FedLoan Servicing (PHEAA)

What it’s offering: FedLoan Servicing has automatically adjusted accounts to temporarily suspend payments. If you have any questions about your loans, you can contact the company at 800-699-2908.

Granite State (GSM&R)

What it’s offering: Granite State has a webpage that provides information about what the company is doing to service accounts during this national emergency. You’re encouraged to manage your account online as much as possible. If you have questions that can’t be handled online, you may call 1-888-556-0022.

Granite State is also offering deferments to customers with NHHELCO Tree, Leaf and EDvestinU loans who have been financially impacted by the coronavirus. To apply, download and fill out the form for your loan type and either mail it to the appropriate address or upload it with the proper documentation through Manage My Account.

Great Lakes Educational Loan Services Inc.

What it’s offering: Great Lakes Educational Loan Services Inc. has a coronavirus information page that provides details about the CARES Act and the suspension of payments and interest accrual on all federally held student loans. If you have questions about your account, you can call 1-800-236-4300 or complete an email form.

MOHELA

What it’s offering: Like other federal student loan servicers, MOHELA has suspended all interest and student loan payments until Jan. 31, 2022, because of the CARES Act. You can manage your account online at any time. If you have questions about your account that can’t be handled online, you can call 1-888-866-4532.

What it’s offering: Navient has a web page summarizing the actions taken by the federal government and the payment relief options granted to federal student loan customers. If you have questions about your account, you can call 1-888-272-5543 or manage your account online.

Nelnet

What it’s offering: Nelnet has an information page that explains the suspension of payments and interest accrual on all federally held student loans. If you have questions about your account, you can call 1-888-486-4722.

Note that under the CARES Act, loans owned by a bank, credit union or other lender are not eligible for suspension. But Nelnet says other options — such as economic hardship or unemployment deferment — are available if you’re in current repayment status.

OSLA Student Loan Servicing

What it’s offering: Like all federal student loan servicers, OSLA will be suspending all interest and principal payments through Jan. 31, 2022. If you have questions about your account, you can contact OSLA directly at 866-264-9762 or DLcustserv@osla.org. You can find the appropriate contact information after logging into your account online.

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Private student loan lenders

Private student loans are not eligible for the relief efforts announced by the federal government. Here’s how some private student loan lenders are helping people financially impacted by the coronavirus.

Citizens Bank

What it’s offering:  Citizens Bank says borrowers financially affected by COVID-19 may be eligible for payment assistance for up to 90 days. If you need financial assistance, you’re asked to call 1-866-259-3767 or visit the Student Loan FAQ page for more information.

College Ave Student Loans

What it’s offering: If you can’t make your private student loan payment because of COVID-19, College Ave Student Loans may be able to offer help. You can call 844-803-0736 to request assistance. 

CommonBond

What it’s offering: CommonBond created an FAQ page to answer common questions related to the coronavirus. Because the pandemic has been declared a national emergency, CommonBond is offering national disaster forbearance assistance to its customers. Disaster forbearance works much like standard forbearance, but it lasts until the end of the national disaster declaration and doesn’t count toward standard forbearance you may be eligible for. You can apply for national disaster forbearance here.

Earnest

What it’s offering: Earnest is offering short-term coronavirus forbearance. Qualified borrowers may be able to postpone their payments for at least one month. You can apply for relief here. If your request is approved, interest will continue to accrue on your account, but it won’t be added to the unpaid principal when your payments resume

Sallie Mae

What it’s offering: Sallie Mae says it has assistance options available, which may include forbearance. Customers experiencing financial difficulty because of the coronavirus are encouraged to contact the company online via chat or through the Sallie Mae app. You may also call 877-604-8834 if your account is past due.

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Other issuers

This list doesn’t cover every student loan lender, and yours might not be included. If you’re worried about student loan payment assistance and aren’t sure what your lender is doing to help, we recommend checking your lender’s website or calling its customer service number to discuss what it may be able to offer, such as interest rate reductions, deferred payments and forbearance options.

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A word of caution

As lenders work to help borrowers who need financial assistance during this crisis, there are scammers out there who are trying to capitalize on the financial hardship many people are currently experiencing. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or CFPB, warns borrowers to watch out for anyone who …

  • Asks for money upfront to provide payment assistance
  • Promises immediate loan forgiveness
  • Asks you to sign a third-party authorization or power of attorney, giving them permission to talk to your student loan servicer
  • Requests your Federal Student Aid PIN

Legitimate loan servicers and lenders won’t do this. If you think you’ve been contacted by a scammer, the CFPB encourages you to report them to the Federal Trade Commission’s Complaint Assistant.

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