My heart goes out to anyone affected by the recent hurricanes. During times like this, your first priority is your and your family’s safety, then picking up all the other pieces. You may find some helpful resources regarding assistance here.
The least of your concerns should be your federal student loans or your in-school deferment if you’re in college. Thankfully, provisions for both of these issues are available for those in federally declared disaster areas. Check this Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) site to determine if you live or go to school in a qualifying county.
Emergency Response Contact Center
In response to the hurricanes, the U.S. Department of Education has created the Emergency Response Contact Center. You can contact the center by calling 844.348.4082 or emailing HarveyRelief@ed.gov or IrmaRelief@ed.gov if you were affected by those storms and are looking for educational informational resources.
The phone number is a hotline, which will prompt you to leave your information to be called back. If you know who your loan holder is, you can contact them directly for more information or call 800.433.3243. You can also contact a Federal Student Aid Ombudsman at 877.557.2575.
Student Loan Assistance
If you’re affected by these hurricanes (or any other natural disaster), loan holders automatically place non-defaulted student loans in a 3-month forbearance.
If you don’t need this forbearance (remember interest accrues during the 3-month period and capitalizes), contact your loan holder directly to cancel it. They will send you a notice about it being applied.
If you have defaulted loans, you or a reliable source will need to request the 3-month forbearance from your loan holder.
If your college attendance has been interrupted due to the hurricanes, your federal student loans will remain in the deferment status until you re-enroll in the next term or withdraw. If you don’t re-enroll, your deferment will conclude on the start date of the term. Any grace period time you are eligible for will begin as of that date.
I’m thankful I don’t need to write blog posts like this often, but I want to offer any guidance I can. Please let me know if you need any more information about how to handle your loans during this time, or what to do if you are unable to attend school. I’ll update this post further if any new information becomes available.
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