April 29, 2020

4 Ways Nurses Can Save Money on Student Loan Debt Amid COVID-19

4 Ways Nurses Can Save Money on Student Loan Debt Amid COVID-19

While most Americans are socially distancing themselves at home, nurses and other healthcare workers are fighting against COVID-19. Many of them are also drowning in the student loan debt they incurred to get them there.

As the coronavirus crisis continues, nurses are receiving outspoken recognition for their dedication and service. This has inspired a movement to cancel student loan debt for nurses, once and for all.

A 2017 financial report by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing found that the median range of graduate nursing debt was around $40,000 to $55,000. (The total of all student debt in the U.S. is $1.7 Trillion).

4 Ways To Save on Student Loan Payments Now:

  1. Student Loan Forbearance: There is a student loan forbearance in the current COVID-19 stimulus. It includes a temporary 0% interest period and a six-month automatic suspension of payments.
  2. 0% Interest on Federal Loans: The Senate passed a stimulus package announcing that federal student loans "will automatically have their interest rates set to 0% for a period for six months. Additionally, borrowers do not have to make payments during that six-month period." According to Studentaid.gov, all federal loan student debt payments "will automatically stop from March 13, 2020, through September 30, 2020.  But borrowers are still allowed to make payments if they choose to.  You can find more information about the automatic forbearance at the Federal Student Aid Website.
  3. Federal loan refi rates have dropped to zero: The coronavirus pandemic moved the federal government to drop refinance rates to zero for the first time in history. Student debtors with federal loans can apply to take on a new loan with better rates through a private lender.
  4. Debt consolidation and refinancing: Since we are seeing some of the lowest interest rates in history, right now is a great time to refinance your non-federal student loans. It is time to consolidate that debt into one low monthly payment through refinancing and debt consolidation.
    • Refinancing means that you will be replacing your loan’s original interest rate with a new interest rate based on today’s low rates - saving you money.
    • Consolidation is the process of moving all your student loan debt into one loan with lower interest rates. This makes it easier for you to make payments and to save money. 

Updates on Student Loan Cancellation For Healthcare Workers Amid COVID-19 

Amid the coronavirus crisis, the financial forgiveness movement for nurses and other healthcare workers has been gaining some momentum online, with medical workers demanding that our government fix the system.  

Here is what is happening now.

Members of Congress have a plan to cancel student debt for all amidst the COVID-19 crisis

Congresswomen Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) introduced The Student Debt Emergency Relief Act to give student debt loan relief during the COVID-19 crisis for all Americans with student loans (not just nurses or healthcare workers).  Their proposal addressed to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader McCarthy, asks for the following:

  • Forgive $30,000 in student loan debt for borrowers
  • Make student loan debt cancellation tax free for the borrower
  • The U.S. Department Of Education would pay all federal student loans during the COVID-pandemic.
  • Protect student loan borrowers from involuntary tax refunds, tax credits, Social Security, and other wage garnishments.

"As you begin negotiating a critical emergency financial recovery package in response to the Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) and its devastating impact on workers, families, and the economy, we ask that you prioritize robust student debt cancellation and immediate relief," they request.

Dozens of Congress members are on board with the proposed bill.  "During this public health emergency, no person should have to choose between paying their student loan payment, putting food on the table or keeping themselves and their families safe and healthy," the lawmakers wrote in a statement

The bill also specifically addressed a Trump administration plan in effect to waive student loan interest payments for Americans. It states that the plan does not come close to meeting the needs of the urgent relief needed for the millions of workers and families who are weathering the COVID-19 crisis storm.

"Proposals that would simply push payments down the road, like forbearance or deferment, are also inadequate. These payment "pauses" are not true relief and are insufficient to meet the needs facing student loan borrowers in this critical moment."

Senate Democrats also have a plan to cancel some student loan debt for all

On March 19th, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., proposed the federal government forgive $10,000 of student debt for every borrower to help Americans manage their money during the crisis. 

According to the emergency relief proposal the plan would:

  • Suspend student loan payments during the ongoing coronavirus crisis; and
  • Forgive $10,000 of student loan debt for every borrower.
  • Suspend garnishment of wages, tax refunds, and Social Security benefits to pay for student loans.
  • Suspend all interest capitalization on student loans.
  • Expand the president's student loan interest waiver plan to FFEL Loans, which are not federal student loans issued by the federal government

The proposal is still pending approval from Congress and would apply only to federal loans, not private.  But it would authorize the U.S. Department of Education to make monthly student loan payments on behalf of borrowers and forgive a minimum of $10,000 of student loans for all borrowers. 

An Indiana professor started a petition to cancel healthcare worker debt

A MoveOn.Org petition was started by Consuelo Lopez-Morillas, a professor at Indiana University, Bloomington. Her goal: for lawmakers to cancel student loan debt for nurses and other healthcare workers leading in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The petition is directed to Senator Mitch McConnell, Senator Chuck Schumer, Representative Nancy Pelosi, Representative Kevin McCarthy, and all of their chiefs of staff. There is no comment yet as to if they will support this.

Lopez-Morillas compares healthcare professionals to soldiers in World War 2 stating, "Health professionals carry crushing loads of student debt, from tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Now they are like soldiers in war, saving lives while risking their own and protecting the rest of us, and many have already died while doing their duty. Without the debt burden more would work in lower-paying specialties like family practice, or underserved rural and urban areas. Society would benefit both in health and economically for many years to come, just as America benefited from the GI Bill."

Eva Yaa Asantewaa from New York, commented, "Our nurses are the front lines of the fight against coronavirus. They deserve our respect and care, and they need to be able to come back from this fight without financial worries."

Lopez-Morillas is aiming for 600,000 signatures. As of April 20, she had over 500,000 in favor of the petition.

You can sign the petition here. 

Nurses are creating Change.org petitions to demand loan forgiveness

Myesha Oyatokis, a nurse from Altlanta, set a petition in motion for President Donald J. Trump and The United States Department of Health. She is also asking for nurse student debt forgiveness.

In her Change.Org petition, Oyatokis wrote, "I truly feel like we as nurses are in the front line of defense against this virus, just like a soldier at war, we are risking our life against the unknown, for all we know this could be some kind of bioterrorism, after all this is done, we deserve more incentives from our government, because we are the ones at risk, putting our love ones at risk as well!"

As of April 21, the petition had 63,688 signatures. Oyatolis is striving for 75,000 to send the request.

You can sign Oyatokis's petition here.

Another nurse, Liatrice Munnerlyn, from Ohio, is petitioning for the student loan forgiveness of nurses.

Her document states: "Nurses continued to accept travel assignments in the epicenters of the outbreak, and continued to show up to work in the epicenters of this viral outbreak such as New York, New Jersey, Washington, and New Orleans. Every nurse putting their lives on the line and leaving behind a family worried sick for their return."

Munnerlyn has 265 signatures as of April with a goal of 500. 

You can sign the petition here.


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