How to get COVID-19 student loan relief


It’s easier than ever to get help

If you are one of the millions of people who lost their jobs or have less income due to the pandemic, finding relief from student loan debt is even more urgent. There is good news! It is now easier than ever to obtain payment relief for student loans, regardless of what type you have. We will explain what programs are available, who is eligible, and how you can get the most out of them.

Forbearance on Federal Student Loans

If federal student loans are owned by the U.S. Department of Education, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act allows federal student loan borrowers to apply for administrative forbearance. What does this all mean?

Originally passed March 13, 2020, the White House extended loan forgiveness to student loans through August 31, 2022.

  • This includes all Federal Family Education Loan Program defaulted loans. As such:
  • Your interest rate will fall to 0%
  • You don’t need to pay.
  • If you wish, you can make partial or full payments throughout this period.
  • There are no late fees.
  • Interest ceases to accrue

Your principal balance will not be affected by the interest you owe on March 12, 2020.

If you are eligible, you don’t need to contact your how to cancel sba loan application provider to ask for these benefits.

Logging in to your student loans account will show a 0% interest rate if you are eligible for the benefit. Double-check to make sure your servicer did not make any mistakes. This is how you can determine if this rate should be applied to your account.

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Education Department-Owned loans

You may be eligible for 0% interest if you have one of these loans:

  • Direct Loans, both defaulted and not defaulted (including PLUS loans for parents and graduate students)
  • The Department of Education has both defaulted and undefaulted FEFL brother loan
  • Defaulted FFEL Program Loans not held by Department of Education
  • Federal Perkins Loans, defaulted and not defaulted, owned by the Department of Education
  • Defaulted Loans for Health Education Assistance

Direct Loans are the first category. The lender is always the Department of Education. Your servicer could be one of nine companies that collect student loans payments and handles administrative matters for the government.

Do You Not Know Who the Owner of the Loan?

These three loan types are not necessarily Department of Education-owned. Commercial lenders may own them.

  • Commercial lenders may also own FFEL loans
  • Commercial lenders may sometimes own HEAL loans
  • Some schools may have Perkins loans

Contact your student loan servicer to find out who is responsible for your loans if you don’t see the 0% interest rate. You can log into your account to view your loan details if you don’t wish to call or email. Let’s assume that your servicer is Nelnet. This is one of the largest student loan servicers. To view a complete list of your loans, click on “Loan Details” within your Nelnet account. However, this list will not show you who has access to your loans. You will need to select one of your loans in the drop-down menu box to get this information.

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The best case scenario is that your servicer realizes it made mistakes and reduces your rate. Your advocate should always be you. The reputation of student loan servicers not acting in the best interest of borrowers is poor. To be fair, they shouldn’t. Your loans are owned by the government and investors, not you. They are debt collectors for clients and that is how they make money.

Don’t believe every service provider who claims you aren’t eligible. To be sure, do your research. You can log in to your servicer’s account and look around. also has information about your loans. You can create an account in just a few moments if you don’t already have one. After you log in, you will be able to view all of your loans. This site might contain details that you didn’t see on the servicer’s website.

FFELP Loans: The Confounding Case

According to Travis Hornsby (founder of Student Loan Planner), nearly six million federal student loan borrowers cannot get relief under the CARES Act due to commercial lenders holding their loans. Student Loan Planner helps borrowers manage student loan debt.

Perhaps you were able to get Stafford loans. These loans are a FFELP loan and have not been issued since 2010. FFELP loans were federal loans but were issued by private lenders. They are now owned by who? Sometimes it’s the Department of Education. That means you can get the CARES Act relief. Sometimes, it is a commercial lender and you won’t be eligible for CARES Act relief.

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Let’s suppose you have found the section of your servicer’s website that identifies who owns your loan. You see this:

  • Current Owner: NELNET Federal Loan Trust

Is “Federal Loan Trust”, the name of the federal government, also the Department of Education, the same as your loan? If so, you should be able to get automatic administrative forbearance.

The answer is unfortunately no. “If a Stafford FFELP Loan is owned by Navient Federal Loan Trust it is not subject to the U.S. Department of Education’s interest waiver and payment pause.” Mark Kantrowitz is the publisher and VP of research at, one of the nation’s most respected experts on student loans. (Navient left Department of Education’s student loan program in September 2021. )10

Why you might not get interest-rate relief

Securitized loans are loans like the one mentioned above. This means that the lender transfers title of the loans to a trust, and then sells shares to investors. Kantrowitz explains. The interest revenue is used for payments to investors. The trust holds the loans so the terms cannot be changed unless they are specifically permitted by the trust. It is still a federal loan with all benefits and terms intact. However, it is not owned or controlled by the U.S. Department of Education.

This explanation explains why your interest rate doesn’t reach 0%. There’s another twist. A guarantor, a company that pays the federal government for student loans not paid on time, is also known as a guarantor. The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency is the guarantor in this instance. According to one of its most recent financial statements, PHEAA had guaranteed loans in excess of $19 billion as of June 30, 2021.

Kantrowitz states that the guarantor acts like an intermediary between the Department of Education (the lender) and the guarantor. Your lender will file a claim against the guarantor if you default. The default claim is paid by the guarantor, the loan is transferred to the Department of Education and the servicer becomes the guarantor.

Kantrowitz states that if a loan has an guarantor it is usually an FFELP loan. This is unless the loan defaults. FFELP loans in default are a category of ED-held loans that can be subject to the interest waiver and payment pause. Defaulting can cause a lot of administrative headaches and financial problems that you don’t want to face. Instead of defaulting, explore your options.

What happens if the Education Department doesn’t own your loans?

If you have federal or private loans, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t be able to get relief if the pandemic has affected you.

California, Connecticut, Illinois and Massachusetts are all eligible to receive relief from student loans that are not held by the Department of Education. If your loan servicer falls within these states, you may be eligible for payment relief.

  • Aspire Resources, Inc.
  • College Ave Student Loan Serviceing, LLC
  • Earnest Operations
  • Edfinancial
  • Kentucky Higher Education Student Loan Corporation, (KHESLC).
  • Lendkey Technologies, Inc.
  • Navient
  • Nelnet
  • SoFi Lending Corp.
  • Tuition options
  • Utah Higher Education Assistance Authority, (UHEAA).
  • Vermont Student Assistance Corporation (VSAC).

Partnering with other companies is possible. Although this state-led payment relief may not be as generous as the CARES Act’s, it is better than nothing. You can:

  • Temporary forbearance request for up to 90 days
  • Late fees can be avoided