Relief flexibilities for federal student loan borrowers extended through Fall 2021

Students+can+find+resources+online+to+help+them+understand+the+CARES+Act.

Isabel Le, graphic artist

Students can find resources online to help them understand the CARES Act.

Lynette Dillard, Contributing Writer

Educational loan jargon can be confusing enough, as it is. Throw the COVID Educational Emergency Relief into the mix and you are bound to go into information (and confusion) overload – This is where the U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid website comes in. The frequently updated Federal Student Aid site provides up to date, detailed information regarding COVID relief flexibilities and its effect on U.S. Department of Education (ED) owned loan borrowers.

Due to the global pandemic, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), became law March 27th, 2020. Since the initial call to law, the CARES Act has been extended through at least September 30th, 2021 (Federal Student Aid, 2021). One of the benefits the CARES Act provides is temporary relief by way of halting collections (notices, calls, requests, etc.) on defaulted loans, suspending required loan payments, as well as setting a 0% interest rate on loans through the September 2021 extension date on U.S. Department of Education owned loans.

*You can visit StudentAid.gov/login to check whether your educational loan is owned by ED, as the CARES Act only applies to these loans.

As the CARES Act and its extension may not be totally understood by many, the Federal Student Aid website, which is an office of the U.S. Department of Education, provides answers to likely questions and concerns regarding current relief flexibilities. The page also offers information on financial aid availability and any changes to the FAFSA process, even in the midst of the pandemic, as well as steps to take now in order to prep for repayment once the CARES Act extension expires in fall 2021.

For current and prospective Minneapolis Community College students specifically, there is another great resource to utilize during this time of loan relief – The Minneapolis College hosted Educational Opportunity Center (EOC). The EOC is part of the federally funded TRIO programs, which are federal outreach service programs designed to identify and provide assistance to individuals from various backgrounds  (Education, 2020).

EOC services are free, and include assistance on both FAFSA and scholarship process guidance, as well as addressing defaulted student loan circumstances (Minneapolis Community & Technical College, n.d.). Due to COVID-19, Educational Opportunity Center services offered on the Minneapolis College campus are being provided remotely and online. Students can attend a Zoom Drop-in session, Wednesdays from 1 pm – 3 pm CST, or schedule a virtual appointment by visiting the EOC webpage at www.Minneapolis.edu/EOC.

If you want to ensure you are in the know and taking advantage of all that the CARES Act offers, from a student’s perspective, the Announcements & Events page on the Federal Student Aid website, as well as the Minneapolis Community College Educational Opportunity Center, are both great places to start!

https://studentaid.gov/announcements-events/coronavirus

The Educational Opportunity Center is available via email [email protected] or directly at 612.659.6543