Attorney General Tong Joins Multistate Coalition Urging Emergency Relief for Federal Student Loan Borrowers in Response to Coronavirus Pandemic
27 AGs Write Letter to Secretary of Education Requesting Relief
(Hartford, CT) – Attorney General William Tong joined a coalition of 27 attorneys general from around the nation calling on the U.S. Department of Education to take emergency measures to aid federal student loan borrowers during the COVID-19 emergency. In a letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, the coalition asks the Department of Education to take specific steps to protect borrowers from further financial burden and debt collection due to job losses and lost wages, resulting from the exponential rise in national unemployment in the last few weeks.
“With millions of Americans newly unemployed, the Department of Education must provide comprehensive, robust relief to student loan borrowers. Although it has already taken some positive steps, there is much more that the Department can and must do to protect borrowers from mounting debt during this crisis,” said Attorney General Tong.
Today’s letter, co-led by New York Attorney General Letitia James and Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, urges 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 of Education must do more, including:
1) 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.
2) Automatically enrolling all federal student loan borrowers in forbearance or delinquent on their loans, or who request enrollment in an Income Driven Repayment (IDR) Plan be placed in a $0-per-month payment plan 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.
3) 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 coalition’s letter urges the Department of Education to extend this emergency relief to all federal student loan borrowers, including borrowers whose Federal Family Education Loans or Federal Perkins loans are not held by the Department of Education.
Joining Attorney General Tong Attorney General James, and Attorney General Shapiro in signing today’s letter to the Department of Education are the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, and Puerto Rico.
Borrowers should visit their loan servicer’s website for information on available relief. Additional information is available on the Department of Education’s student aid website.