Department of Education Doing Its Part in Hurricane Harvey Relief
Despite the catastrophic deluge in Texas thanks to Hurricane Harvey, stories of heroes are flooding the internet. Normal citizens are joining the emergency crews to help when and where they can, often in rescue missions. Photos capture laughing kids being carried to safety, smiling people being rescued from flooded houses, and even pets and livestock being taken care of.
The Department of Education is doing its part as well to provide relief to student loan borrowers.
When a natural disaster like Harvey hits, your life can go underwater. Even after the floods recede, it may take a while for your life to get back on track. Everything is affected, from your living and work situation to your personal finances. Your priorities change along with everything else, and things like your student loan payment may get pushed to the back burner.
The U.S. Department of Education recently outlined the rights of students and borrowers affected by Hurricane Harvey. First and foremost, the DOE advised student loan servicers to be flexible with borrowers in areas affected by Hurricane Harvey.
If your account address is in a federally declared disaster area, you may be eligible for a three-month administrative forbearance. You may receive a letter about this, but if you lost access to your mailbox, call your servicer.
However, though helpful, remember that interest will still accrue while your loans are in forbearance. If you can, try to make interest-only payments so the interest does not capitalize when your loans leave forbearance.
Borrowers in default when the storm hit will receive three months’ reprieve from contact from collection agencies. Those in rehabilitation will also get a break from making the necessary payments, and they will not be punished by missing payments.
Current students also get relief under the DOE’s guidance. For example, any student who is forced to withdraw from school because of the storm will receive a refund or credit; and schools will be flexible when determining financial aid awards, including not counting disaster relief as income.
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