Nearly a million student loan borrowers who survived earlier relief efforts are getting a reward – but only if they defaulted on their loans.
The Department of Education said on Tuesday that it would temporarily stop collecting default loans that were made and held privately through the Family Federal Education Loan Program.
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said, “Our goal is to enable these debtors who are already struggling to default to get the same protection provided to tens of other borrowers.”
However, the change still leaves millions of other borrowers in that program responsible for payments, while the country’s student loan borrowers have their hold.
Since last March, 43 million borrowers with government-owned federal loans have had the option of withholding their payments. But about six million borrowers whose loans were part of the family’s federal education loan program – or FFEL – were abandoned because the government had no debt.
For many decades, federal student loans were insured by the government but by private lenders. In 2010, Congress abolished that system and switched to making direct loans owned by the Department of Education. During the Great Recession, the government purchased some – but not all – of the existing federal loans from private lenders.
It created a two-tiered system last year when the Department of Education held direct-held loans with FFEL loans that were owned by the epidemic. Loans still held in private were not affected.
Tuesday’s move does not help borrowers who are still making payments on those privately held FFEL loans or are only a few months behind. According to data from the Department of Education, there are about 5.4 million borrowers in that category, who owe a total of $ 134 billion.
Tuesday’s announcement is meant to prevent borrowers from forfeiting their tax refunds through a program by the Treasury Department, often used to take on overdue student loan debt. The Education Department said that any refunds or wages seized from March 2020 onwards would be returned to the garnet.
The freeze will extend through Sept 30, when collections are scheduled to resume on all federal student loans. According to data from the Department of Education, almost all people who are eligible for the freeze took advantage of this: About 43 million people, who only have owned loans, are paying only 400,000.