April 28, 2020

How to Get Your Nursing Student Loan Payments Deferred During COVID-19

As the coronavirus pandemic has changed the world in many seen and unseen ways, nursing students across the country have been left dealing with the practical realities of how a global pandemic impacts their daily lives. Some students have seen their education extended by an entire semester, while others are facing graduation earlier than expected. 

What hasn’t changed about nursing school, however, is the cost. Those student loans still have to get paid, right? Whether you’re out in the workforce, looking at graduating early, or still have more school to complete, here are some of the ways you can get help with your student loan payments in the wake of COVID-19. 

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Federal Student Loan Deferment

If you have federal student loans, we have good news: you don’t have to do anything to take advantage of reduced interest and suspending payments. As of right now, it’s all automatically applied to all federal student loans, thanks to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which went into effect March 27th. 

The U.S. Department of Education has reduced the interest rate on all federal loans to 0% from now until September 30, 2020. This interest rate reduction will take place automatically and applies to loans in all states--including if you’re still in school, if your loans are in a grace period, in repayment, or in deferment/forbearance. 

In addition to the 0% interest rate, all federal loans are also automatically being placed into administrative forbearance, which means monthly payments are suspended. The administrative forbearance is also in effect until Sept. 30, 2020. If for some reason, you had a direct deposit that was set up and still went through, or you paid without realizing that you didn’t have to, you can also request a refund of any payments made between March 27th and September 30, 2020. However, if you want to make payment during this time, you absolutely can and the Department of Ed notes that any payments made during the 0% interest time will be applied to the principal once all your loan’s interest amount prior to March 13 is paid.

If you’re on a Public Loan Forgiveness plan, which requires you to work full-time and make qualifying monthly loan payments in order to reach the forgiveness, you will receive credit towards the forgiveness as if you were making your monthly payments. And the same goes for anyone on an income-driven repayment plan--suspended payments will still count towards forgiveness. 

You can also check on the Federal Student Aid COVID-19 website for updates and FAQs about your federal loans. 

Private Student Loan Deferment

Unfortunately, lenders who offer private loans are under no obligation to follow federal rules and regulations on offering forbearance or 0% interest rates during the pandemic. Unlike federal lenders, private lenders set their own rules and rates, which means that if you have a private loan, you are subject to their conditions. 

However, if you are a nurse or nursing student struggling to make your monthly payments, there are still some steps you can take with a private lender: 

  • Check if your lender has issued any public response to COVID-19. Some lenders, such as WellsFargo and Sallie Mae have released public responses to COVID-19, outlining what resources they are offering to borrowers. You can check on their website or speak with a representative. 
  • Call your loan officer and see if they’re willing to work with you. Explain your financial situation and how COVID-19 has impacted you. 
  • Ask about loan assistance programs. There are many options that a lender may be able to offer you on an individual basis, such as suspending payments for a few months, temporarily lowering your interest rate, or offering interest-only payments. 

Student Loan Refinance

If deferring your student loans isn't an option at the moment, refinancing your loans is a good alternative. Refinancing is the process of replacing your loan's current interest rate with a new interest rate. This process works best when current interest rates are lower than when you originally opened your loan, saving you money by reducing your monthly payments. Some refinancing options also let you consolidate all your student loans into one new loan, making things easier to keep track of. If you're currently working and generating income, you could qualify for a student loan refinance.

Other Ways to Get Financial Support Right Now

Outside of loan forgiveness, the American Association of Colleges of Nurses also recently announced a COVID-19 Nursing Student Support Fund of $25,000 for nursing students. The Support Fund is providing 50 $500 one-time grants to nursing students for educational and/or life expenses who are enrolled in AACN member schools. According to the AACN, students in their final two semesters will be given priority. 

Interested full-time students can apply online for the Support Fund by April 27. The application will include: 

  • Your contact information
  • Details about your nursing program
  • Your advisor’s information
  • Photo 

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