In response to the ongoing economic repercussions stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, President Donald Trump announced on Friday (March 20) that the Department of Education will allow any person with student loan debt to take a 60-day break (at least) from making their monthly payments — without any interest or penalties.
“Probably a lot of students will be extremely happy, some probably not,” Trump said. “The ones that work hard, maybe not, but it’s one of those things. Very unfortunate circumstances.”
In a press release, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos called the measure a response to "anxious times, particularly for students and families whose educations, careers, and lives have been disrupted. Right now, everyone should be focused on staying safe and healthy, not worrying about their student loan balance growing. I commend President Trump for his quick action on this issue, and I hope it provides meaningful help and peace of mind to those in need.”
Currently, Americans collectively hold $1.56 trillion in student loan debt. Interest rates on all federally held student loans will dip down to zero until at least May 12, according to Politico. This comes one week after Trump declared a national emergency and said the government would wave interest in all student loans held by federal agencies for the time being.
But you don’t automatically get the 60-day suspension: First, you’ll need to make a request to your loan servicers on the phone or online. However, if you’re already a month or more behind on your payments, the administration will automatically give you a 60-day reprieve.
“Some borrowers may want to continue making payments, like those seeking Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) or those enrolled in a repayment plan with a manageable monthly payment,” the statement from the education department read. “The Department will work closely with Congress to ensure all student borrowers, including those in income-driven repayment plans, receive needed support during this emergency.”
MTV News has reached out to the Department of Education for guidance on what borrowers should do if they are not able to contact their servicer. When one staffer tried to call his loan provider, he went through several menus only to be met with an automatic recording: The office was closed to mitigate the threat of COVID-19.