Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Attorney General
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Charlotte Gomer, Press Secretary
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ATTORNEY GENERAL HERRING FIGHTS FOR EMERGENCY RELIEF FOR FEDERAL STUDENT LOAN BORROWERS IN RESPONSE TO CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC
~ Coalition of 27 attorneys general have sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos requesting relief for student loan borrowers ~
RICHMOND (March 26, 2020) – Attorney General Mark R. Herring today joined a coalition of 27 attorneys general from around the nation in calling on the U.S. Department of Education and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to provide federal student loan borrowers with crucial emergency measures to help in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. In a letter sent to Secretary DeVos, the coalition asks the Department of Education to take specific steps to protect borrowers from further financial burden and debt collection due to job losses and lost wages, resulting from the exponential rise in national unemployment in the last few weeks.
"Sadly, as a result of the growing COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen an exponential growth in unemployment both in Virginia and around the country,” said Attorney General Herring. "People in serious financial distress because of this crisis have enough to worry about without also having to worry about how they will pay their student loans. We must all work together right now to alleviate the financial burden on individuals and that includes providing more relief for student borrowers.”
In the letter, Attorney General Herring and his colleagues urge the Department of Education to immediately implement emergency measures to protect federal student loan borrowers. The letter notes that while the federal government has already taken a series of initial steps to help student loan borrowers — including ceasing some collection actions — the Department of Education must do more, including:
- Halting all new and continuing involuntary collection activities — including wage garnishment and the offset of government benefits, such as Social Security and tax refunds — and refunding 2019 tax refund offsets for all federal student loan borrowers for the duration of the crisis.
- Automatically enrolling all federal student loan borrowers who are in or enter into forbearance, who are or become delinquent on their loans, or who request enrollment in an Income Driven Repayment (IDR) Plan, in an IDR plan with a $0-per-month payment, without requiring submission of an IDR application, verification of income, or recertification for the duration of the crisis. This would permit struggling borrowers to suspend payments while continuing to make progress toward Public Service Loan Forgiveness or IDR loan forgiveness.
- Extending eligibility for all additional relief available pursuant to previously announced modifications for those affected by national emergencies to all federal loan borrowers for the duration of the crisis.
The coalition's letter urges the Department of Education to extend this emergency relief to all federal student loan borrowers, including borrowers whose Federal Family Education Loans or Federal Perkins loans are not held by the Department of Education.
Joining Attorney General Herring in sending today's letter are the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, and Puerto Rico.
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