Repayment of federal student loans covered by the federal C.A.R.E.S. Act restarts October 1, 2020.
Act NOW to prepare. You have options.
Learn about your options then call your loan servicer to discuss the best option for YOU.
This website has important information about managing your student loans during the COVID-19 health and economic crisis. Every borrower’s circumstances are unique, but you can read about your options here, learn some important tips, and then call you student loan servicer to discuss the best plan for YOU.
All student loan borrowers—federal and private loan borrowers--should contact their student loan servicers to inquire about their options, but this is especially true for certain federal student loan borrowers, whose automatic C.A.R.E.S. Act relief will end on October 1.
For many federal student loan borrowers experiencing financial uncertainty, enrolling in an income-driven repayment program may offer both short- and long-term relief. Find more information below.
If you experience a problem with your student loan servicer you can file a complaint with the New York Department of Financial Services.
4 steps you should take NOW to take control of your student loans
COVID. Learn about how COVID-19 and the federal C.A.R.E.S. Act affect your student loans. Information includes FAQs, and how to determine whether your loans are federal or private and who owns them.
OPTIONS. Review the many ways that you can repay your student loans, and options for when you can’t afford to repay them.
- The DFS Step Up for Students section has information about your federal and private loans.
- You can also find information about federal loans on the U.S. Department of Education’s StudentAid.gov website, including a login to access your federal loans account.
- New York State has specific protections for student loan borrowers when they are interacting with their loan servicers. You can read about these rights in the New York Student Loan Borrower Bill of Rights.
- Read the “Important Tips” section below for some general advice about picking repayment plans.
ACTION. Contact your student loan servicer to discuss what options will be best for YOU. You can find your servicer’s contact information on your latest monthly billing statement or by logging in on StudentAid.gov. If you have multiple loans you may have multiple servicers. Be sure to read the “Important Tips” section below before contacting your servicer.
RIGHTS. File a complaint with DFS if you think a loan servicer is misinforming or deceiving you, is treating you disrespectfully, or is otherwise violating your rights. The Department of Financial Services licenses and regulates student loan servicers and can help you get answers to your questions or resolve problems you have with your servicer.
Deferments and income-driven repayment plans
- If you lost your job or have lower income and are not able to make your full monthly payments, deferments and income-driven repayment plans are both ways to reduce or eliminate monthly payments.
- Deferments let you skip payments if you meet certain qualifications, but you will still have to repay that month’s amount later.
- Income-driven repayment plans set your payment amount based on your income, which in some cases can result in $0 monthly “payments.” These repayment plans also lead toward loan forgiveness after a period of time, usually 20-25 years. Public Service Loan Forgiveness only requires 10 years of payment, but be sure you are enrolled in the correct plan and meet all of the PSLF requirements.
- Both require an application, and can cause interest to accrue, increasing the amount you owe overtime. You should review both options before speaking with you student loan servicer to determine which is best for you.
- For many borrowers, income-driven repayment plans will be preferable to a deferment.
- In general, deferments and income-driven repayment plans are better options than forbearances. If your student loan servicer tells you to enter a forbearance, which are easy to apply for, be sure to ask them about these other options before agreeing.
Defaulted loans and rehabilitation
- If your federal loans are in default, you should contact your student loan servicer to ask about rehabilitation, a process that can return your loans to good standing if you make 9 affordable and voluntary payments within 10 months. For loans covered by the C.A.R.E.S. Act, the suspended payments leading up to October 1 count toward repayment, so you should start the rehabilitation process soon. Rehabilitating your loans will also restore your repayment options, putting you in a better position for after the C.A.R.E.S. Act.
Consolidating federal loans
- If your student loan servicer suggests that you consolidate your loan, be aware that that process replaces your old loan with a new loan. Any benefits or credits toward forgiveness, such as with the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, will be lost.
- Document everything and keep your records in one place. If you speak to your student loan servicer on the phone and they make a change to your account, confirm that they will send a confirmation email or letter. If you have any issues with you loans later, it will be helpful to have records of all of your interactions.
- If your loan is covered by the C.A.R.E.S. Act and you were enrolled in auto-payments, the federal government suspended those payments. When repayment begins on October 1, 2020, if you will not have enough money in your account to cover your monthly payment, be sure to turn off your auto-payments. Do not wait until September 30 to do this—to ensure your request is processed before payments restart, if you plan to turn off your auto-payments you should do so immediately. When auto-payment is turned off you can still make manual payments.
File a Complaint
If you experience a problem with your student loan servicer, you can file a complaint with the New York Department of Financial Services.