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The US Congress passed the CARES Act in April 2020 following the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic. Among many other provisions, the CARES Act provided unprecedented relief for federal student loan borrowers. The legislation is set to expire after September 30, 2020. However, with things turning from bad to worse with an increased rate of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths over the past few weeks, is there hope of a second stimulus in the form of the HEROES Act? Here we’ll explore the student loan provisions in the HEROES Act and what this means to healthcare workers.
Introducing the HEROES Act
Upon passing the CARES Act, Congress effectively froze government held student loans in time. All payments, interest, and collections on government held loans was suspended. The student loan relief clause of the CARES Act is set to expire after September 30, 2020. For most of the year, students have been able to put the worry of impending student loans on the shelf while they deal with the effects of this ravaging pandemic.
The House of Representatives introduced the HEROES Act in May 2020, sponsored by Representative Nita M. Lowey of New York. The bill expanded student loan protections and introduced loan forgiveness for essential workers. The legislation passed in the House on May 15, 2020 and was received in the Senate on May 20, 2020. Since then It’s been stalled in the Senate. Unfortunately, the bill has been up for review twice in the Senate without resolution. It now stands that the bill has been placed on the Senate’s legislative calendar, pending further review. There is a chance that the HEROES bill can be revived if a second stimulus is on the table.
Student loan Provisions of the Act
The bill modifies or expands a wide range of programs and policies including student loans and financial aid. These can be found under TitleV of the bill- “Forgiving student loan debt and protecting student borrowers” Here is a summary of the provisions.
- Student loan forgiveness for both privately and government held loans up to a maximum of $10,000.
- An extension of the CARES ACT protections which essentially freezes your government held loans in time. All payments, interest, and collections would be suspended in the form of an administrative forbearance until September 30, 2021.
- No adverse credit reporting to credit agencies during the time of forbearance until September 30, 2021
- Notification by the Secretary of the Treasury to borrowers of the above mentioned provisions
- Provisions for private student loan borrowers who are economically distressed and criteria outlining who qualifies as economically distressed
- Default protections
- Prohibitions on lenders pressuring student loan borrowers
Healthcare workers understand the burden of student loan debt. It can be difficult to nearly impossible to work during your training and education. Will the HEROES Act help ease some of your student loan debt or is $10,000 just a drop in the bucket weighed against the thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars that you may owe lenders? Should there be some form of compensatory action for working on the front lines and risking your life?