We are actively tracking updates regarding the COVID-19 outbreak. If you have concerns about how the outbreak may affect your schooling or ability to repay your loans, please refer to the Frequently Asked Questions below.
On March 27, 2020, Congress passed, and the president signed into law, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), which provides for the above relief measures through September 30, 2020.
On August 8, 2020, President Trump directed the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to continue to suspend loan payments, stop collections, and waive interest on ED owned student loans until December 31, 2020.
On December 4, 2020, relief benefits were extended until January 31, 2021, providing, among other things, broad relief for federal student loan borrowers.
On January 20, 2021, President Joe Biden signed an Executive Order extending benefits at least through September 30, 2021, providing, among other things, broad relief for federal student loan borrowers.
Below, we have answered questions about these COVID-19 emergency relief measures and the resulting flexibilities for federal student loans.
We will continue to update this page on our website as we receive additional information.
0% Interest Rate Questions
How does the extension of the temporary 0% interest rate benefit affect my account?
Beginning March 13, 2020 through the end of the COVID emergency relief period, all ED-owned student loans began receiving a 0% interest rate. During this time, interest will not accrue (accumulate).
Interest is being temporarily set at 0% on federal student loans. Which loans does the 0% rate apply to?
From March 13, 2020, through the end of the COVID emergency relief period, the interest rate is 0% on all ED-owned student loans. All loans previously held with CornerStone are ED-owned.
Please note that some FFEL Program and HEAL loans are owned by commercial lenders, and some Perkins Loans are owned by the institution you attended. Loans that are not federally owned are not eligible for this benefit at this time, but you can contact your servicer to ask about what benefits may be available.
If my loans are owned by the U.S. Department of Education (ED), do I need to do anything for the interest rate on my loans to be 0%?
No, all accounts have been adjusted so that interest doesn’t accrue. The adjustment has been backdated and became effective as of March 13, 2020.
I’m not currently in repayment. Am I still eligible to receive the 0% interest rate?
As of March 13, 2020, all ED-owned student loans received a 0% interest rate until the end of the COVID emergency relief period. During this time, interest will not accrue.
Are my loans eligible to receive the 0% interest waiver?
Loans previously serviced by CornerStone will receive the 0% interest rate. If you have loans being serviced with other servicers, we recommend you verify that they are owned by the Department of Education. Loans that are part of the Perkins, Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program that are not owned by ED, or private loans may not be eligible to receive this benefit.
How long will the 0% interest rate benefit extension last?
Interest stopped accruing beginning March 13, 2020 and won’t accrue through the end of the COVID relief period.
Will I have to pay interest that accrued before March 13, 2020?
Yes. You are still responsible for any previously accrued interest because the adjustment will be backdated with the effective date of March 13, 2020.
If I make loan payments during the 0% interest rate period, how will they be applied?
During the 0% interest rate period (March 13, 2020, through January 31, 2021), the full amount of your payments will be applied to principal once all the interest that accrued prior to March 13, 2020 is satisfied.
How can I take advantage of this program if I have Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program loans?
While your lender or school may provide you with alternative benefits, you can consolidate your FFEL Program or Federal Perkins loans that are not ED-owned into a Direct Consolidation Loan, which would be eligible for 0% interest. However, if you consolidate, after the 0% interest rate period ends, the interest rate on your loan may be higher than what you are currently paying. In addition, when you consolidate, any outstanding interest will capitalize, meaning that any outstanding interest is added to your principal balance. Your servicer can provide you with information about how your loan balance, interest rate, and total amount to be paid would change if you consolidated into a Direct Consolidation Loan.
Will an interest rate reduction affect my eligibility for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) or forgiveness under an Income Driven Repayment (IDR) plan?
No, an interest rate reduction will not affect your eligibility for PSLF or IDR forgiveness.
Will the interest that accrued on my loans before the suspension of payments began on March 13 be capitalized (added to my loans) at the end of the suspension of payments?
Interest could capitalize at the end of the coronavirus-related suspension of payments, depending on the status of your loans before March 13, 2020. You should contact your loan servicer about your specific situation, but here are a few common examples:
- Generally speaking, if you were up to date on your payments before the suspension of payments began, interest accrued prior to March 13, 2020, will not capitalize.
- If, before the suspension of payments began, you were in the type of deferment or forbearance in which interest would normally capitalize, then interest accrued prior to March 13, 2020, will capitalize when your original deferment or forbearance ends or when the COVID emergency relief period ends, whichever is later.
- If you were in your grace period before the suspension of payments began, any outstanding or unpaid interest on your account will capitalize when you enter repayment.
I understand that my loans will be placed in an administrative forbearance, temporarily suspending my monthly payments. What do I need to do to postpone my payments this way?
No action is needed from you at this time. This administrative forbearance was originally applied effective as of March 13, 2020 through September 30, 2020. The forbearance will be extended through the end of the COVID relief period to continue serving as a safety net during the COVID-19 emergency.
How long will the administrative forbearance last?
The administrative forbearance began on March 13, 2020 and will be active through the end of the COVID relief period.
Are my loans accruing interest while in this administrative forbearance?
The 0% interest rate period has been extended on all ED-owned loans through the end of the COVID relief period. As a result, your loans will not accrue any interest during this forbearance period.
How can I take advantage of this option if I have Federal Family Education (FFEL) Program loans?
You can consolidate your current FFEL Program loans into a Direct Consolidation Loan, which would then allow you to be eligible to receive this administrative forbearance. Please be advised, the general timeline for consolidations is up to 90 days.
If I consolidate into a Direct Consolidation Loan during the administrative forbearance, will my new consolidation loan automatically be placed in administrative forbearance?
Yes. However, if you consolidate, once the 0% interest rate period ends after January 31, 2021, the interest rate on your loan may be higher than what you were paying before you consolidated your loans. In addition, when you consolidate, any outstanding interest will capitalize, meaning that any outstanding interest will be added to your principal balance. If you consolidate, you will also lose credit for any qualifying income-driven repayment or Public Service Loan Forgiveness payments you may have previously made. Your servicer can provide you with information about how your loan balance, interest rate, and total amount to be paid would change if you consolidated into a Direct Consolidation Loan.
I’m currently working towards forgiveness under an Income Driven Repayment (IDR) plan. Does my time in this administrative forbearance still count towards forgiveness?
Yes! If you are currently working towards forgiveness under an IDR plan, any time spent in this administrative forbearance will count toward forgiveness; however, time spent in any other type of payment postponement period will not count toward forgiveness.
I’m currently working towards forgiveness under Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). Does my time in this administrative forbearance still count towards forgiveness?
If you have a Direct Loan, were on a qualifying repayment plan prior to the suspension, and work full-time for a qualifying employer during the suspension, and meet all other qualifying factors, then you will receive credit towards PSLF for the period of suspension as though you made on-time monthly payments.
My IDR Recertification date is coming up soon. Will this administration forbearance affect when I should recertify?
Yes. Income-driven repayment (IDR) annual certification due dates occurring between March 13, 2020, and March 31, 2021, are all now due no sooner than March 31, 2021. You will be notified of your new recertification date before it is time to recertify.
Example: If your IDR recertification was due on May 15, 2020, the new recertification date is May 15, 2021
Am I able to continue making payments during this administrative forbearance?
Yes! Continuing to make payments during the administrative forbearance could help you pay down your loan balance quicker because the full amount of a payment will be applied to principal once all interest accrued prior to March 13, 2020, is paid.
What if I want to continue making a partial payment while my loans are in this administrative forbearance?
As long as you are in this administrative forbearance, you will not be penalized for making a payment that is less than your usual monthly payment. Meanwhile, you still have the option to make a full payment on your loan to make progress toward reducing your balance. Payments can be made through your servicer online or over the phone.
I would like to continue making payments during this time. Can I cancel this administrative forbearance?
Yes, you may submit a request to your servicer to have this administrative forbearance removed. Please be advised that once this forbearance is removed, payments will resume. If you are on automatic payments, they will be reactivated with your next bill. If you would like to request to have this forbearance removed, please reach out to one of our Loan Specialists by phone. Please be advised, if you fall more than 30 days delinquent after the forbearance is removed and before the end of the COVID relief period, your loans will automatically be placed back into the administrative forbearance.
I received a negative mark on my credit before the administrative forbearance was placed on my account. Will that credit mark be removed?
If the negative mark occurred in March after March 13, 2020, the reporting was updated in April. Negative marks that occurred prior to March 13, 2020, will not be changed. However, during this administrative forbearance, your account will be reported as current.
I’m currently on automatic payments. What will happen to my regular automatic payments if I do nothing?
Automatic payments have been suspended during the administrative forbearance.
If you want your automatic payment to continue, please log in to your online account to opt out of the administrative forbearance. Once the forbearance is removed your automatic payments will resume.
You also have the option to remain in the administrative forbearance and submit online (i.e., not automatic) payments or, you may also submit payments over the phone during this time.
How will I know when I will have to start making payments again?
Your Servicer will contact you before the 0% interest rate and administrative forbearance expire to remind you that payments are about to begin again. Please ensure your contact information is up to date in your online profile.
What if my loan is currently in a grace period, and I was supposed to start making payments on a date that falls within the COVID relief period?
You will receive the administrative forbearance (and your loans will remain at the 0% interest rate) for any period after your loans enter repayment through the end of the COVID relief period.
Please be advised that entering repayment is a capitalization event, which means any interest that accrued on your loans prior to March 13 will be capitalized (added to the principal balance) at the end of your grace period. You can make payments during the forbearance period and prior to entering repayment if you wish to avoid capitalization of some or all of the outstanding interest that accrued on your loans prior to March 13, 2020.
What will happen to my account if I am unable to attend classes due to COVID-19?
Your school sends regular enrollment updates to your student loan servicer. If your enrollment status drops below half-time and your account enters a repayment status as a result of COVID-19, your account will automatically be placed in an administrative forbearance until the end of the COVID relief period.
Is COIVD-19 affecting the processing of my financial aid or FAFSA?
What if my campus has closed due to coronavirus? Will I be able to finish the term and keep my federal student aid?
Please contact your school. Many institutions are making arrangements (such as take-home assignments or online classes) so students can complete the term.
If my campus is closed or only offering online instruction, will I still get paid for the hours I am unable to work for my Federal Work-Study job?
If you’re unable to work your scheduled hours because of COVID-19-related disruptions (such as school or employer closures or student quarantines), your school may pay you for any scheduled hours or allow you to work by another means—for example, completing work online or remotely, depending on the job. Contact your school for more information.
My parent(s) can’t go to work because of COVID-19, and they don’t get paid if they don’t work. This means my financial need has increased. Can I get more financial aid?
Contact the financial aid office at your school to help determine eligibility. They have flexibility to work with students to ensure that students are able to stay in school.
If my school moves classes online, am I going to get less financial aid?
If your school has moved classes to an online format, you must continue to participate in the course work and follow your teacher or professor’s instructions to remain eligible for financial aid. If you have questions about the online format, contact your school.
How do I contact my school’s financial aid office if the school is closed?
Check your school’s website for resources and contact information. Your school’s verified social media accounts also may be a good source for the latest information about how to contact your school during this time. While many schools have transitioned face-to-face courses to online instruction, most remain open and available to assist their students with questions.
What will happen to my account if my child is unable to attend classes due to COVID-19?
Your school sends regular enrollment updates to your student loan servicer. Loans that enter a repayment status as a result of COVID-19 will automatically be placed in an administrative forbearance until the end of the COVID relief period.
What steps should I take if my/my child’s enrollment status is now below half-time as a result of COVID-19?
No action is required on your part regarding your child’s enrollment status. Loans that enter repayment as a result of COVID-19 will automatically be placed in an administrative forbearance until the end of the COVID relief period.
I’m currently on an Income Driven Repayment (IDR) plan. I recently started making a lot less money because of the COVID-19 outbreak and don’t know when my income will return to the same level. What can I do?
You are automatically being placed in an administrative forbearance that allows you to stop making payments from March 13, 2020, through the end of the COVID relief period.
If you are on an IDR plan and your income has changed significantly, you can update your information and get a new payment amount based on your current income. To do so, visit StudentAid.gov/idr, click on “Apply Now,” and then start the application by clicking on the button next to “Recalculate my monthly payment.” After the administrative forbearance ends on January 31, 2021, your monthly payments will resume at the new amount.
If you would like to enroll in an IDR plan for the first time, visit StudentAid.gov/idr, click on “Apply Now,” and then start the application.