CHICAGO, Ill. (WCIA) — With some forms of rent, unemployment and other COVID-19 emergency financial measures already in place across the country, Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul joined 27 attorneys general to request the U.S. Department of Education take similar action for student borrowers.
“As more and more employers close or suspend operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, student loan borrowers are facing increased pressure to find money in their limited budgets to pay for their mortgage, rent and health care needs,” Raoul said. “Allowing repayment flexibility will help alleviate some pressure for borrowers who are facing economic uncertainty. My office will assist student loan borrowers in every way possible during and following this public health crisis.”
According to a press release Thursday Raoul and other attorneys general are urging the Department of Education to immediately implement emergency measures to protect federal student loan borrowers. The letter notes that while the federal government has already taken a series of initial steps to help student loan borrowers — including ceasing some collection actions — the department must do more, including:
• Halting all new and continuing involuntary collection activities — including wage garnishment and the offset of government benefits, such as Social Security and tax refunds — and refunding 2019 tax refund offsets for all federal student loan borrowers for the duration of the crisis.
• Automatically enrolling all federal student loan borrowers in a $0-per-month Income Driven Repayment (IDR) plan if they are in or enter into forbearance, are or become delinquent on their loans, or request enrollment IDR plan. Borrowers should be enrolled without being required to submit an IDR application or provide verification of income or recertification for the duration of the crisis. This would permit struggling borrowers to suspend payments while continuing to make progress toward Public Service Loan Forgiveness or IDR loan forgiveness.
• Extending eligibility for all additional relief available pursuant to previously announced modifications for those affected by national emergencies to all federal loan borrowers for the duration of the crisis.
The relief would be expected to be available for all federal student loan borrowers, including those whose Federal Family Education Loans or Federal Perkins loans are not held by the Department of Education.