Welcome to Student Loan News, a weekly summary of developments and events affecting college debt in the U.S. Join us each Friday for a look at goings-on that could impact your own student loan situation.
Help is hard to find for furloughed government workers
As we reported just before the shutdown started Dec. 22, the current federal government closure doesn’t affect the Department of Education, which had already received funds for the current fiscal year. As a result, financial aid payments shouldn’t take an immediate hit.
But, of course, if you or someone in your family is an employee or contractor with any of the agencies that ARE closed by the partial government shutdown, then the situation has a huge impact on your student loans.
The Department of Education’s blog, known as Homeroom, has issued tips for federal workers dealing with student debt during the furlough (it suggests income-driven repayment or deferment). Meanwhile, a group of at least 70 members of the House of Representatives has written to the department urging it “do all it can” to proactively help affected employees.
But to date, Student Loan Hero isn’t aware of any direct federal financial assistance for furloughed government workers with student loans.
But others are stepping in to bridge the gap. For example, the Rhode Island Student Loan Authority (RISLA), a nonprofit that issues loans in the state, has suspended repayment for federal workers hit by the closure, WPRI reports.
How it affects YOU: Unfortunately, the availability of help for shut-out government workers is hit and miss, at least for now. A good first step would be to contact the office of your congressional representative. The office may have information on available aid, and your call will at least help focus that member of Congress on finding a solution.
And if you happen to have loans with RISLA, call 800-758-7562 or 888-897-4752 to find out about forbearance on your loan. (And check out WPRI’s guide to getting help during the shutdown.)
Natty Light back with more money for college loan repayment
Popular Anheuser-Busch beer brand Natural Light (a.k.a. Natty) plans to help its fans pay back their student loans with a couple of giveaways for borrowers.
First is the return of its college debt relief contest, in which 70 winners will divvy up $1 million, awarded to those with the best stories about why they decided to go to college.
But if writing about your inspiration to pursue higher education is too much, there’s also a Super Bowl sweepstakes that you can enter via social media to become one of 151 winners to receive $351 each (the average monthly student loan payment).
How it affects YOU: Rules and entry details for both Natty giveaways can be found here. Note that although it cites Student Loan Hero data in the news release, we aren’t involved in this contest in any way. (But good luck all the same!)
Also in the news …
- The idea of including student loan repayment assistance as a workplace benefit is starting to take off, with more employers adding the perk, a Washington Post report out Tuesday said. A tighter labor market has spurred more companies to offer help to student loan borrowers among their staff. Check out this list of employers with student loan repayment assistance to see if any are in your field.
- The Federal Reserve has a new report, per CNBC, on how the student loan crisis has hurt the housing market. The study says that between 2005 and 2014, the proportion of heads of household ages 24 to 32 who own their home has dropped by nine percentage points, of which two points are due entirely to the rise in student loan debt.
- A study of complaints submitted to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau involving student loans in 2018 showed that servicer Navient led in the number of issues reported. A full 46% of all student loan complaints for the year were about Navient, one of the nation’s largest college debt services.
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