The following is a press release from the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office submitted to SOURCE media.
BOSTON – Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey joined a coalition of 27 state attorneys general urging the U.S Department of Education to take additional emergency measures to protect student loan borrowers impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.
In the letter, the attorneys general urge U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to use authority granted to her under the Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students Act of 2003 to provide critical relief to borrowers.
“There are people in Massachusetts and all across the country who have lost their jobs and don’t know how they are going to make their next student loan payment,” said AG Healey. “We need the Department of Education to get them the relief they need now.”
According to the letter, the federal government has already taken a series of initial steps to help student loan borrowers — including ceasing some collection actions.
Today, March 26, the coalition is calling for additional measures to protect borrowers, including:
- Halting all new and continuing involuntary collection activities: The attorneys general call for the Department of Education to stop all new and ongoing collection efforts. This includes wage garnishment, offset of government benefits such as Social Security benefits and tax refunds for all federal student loan borrowers for the duration of the crisis. The attorneys general also call on the Department to refund all 2019 tax refund offsets that have already been withheld.
- Automatically enrolling certain borrowers into Income Driven Repayment plan with a $0 per month payment: The attorneys general call for all federal student loan borrowers who either are currently in or request a forbearance, or become delinquent on their loans, or voluntarily opt in via a request to a servicer, to be automatically enrolled in an Income Driven Repayment (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.
- Extending eligibility for all additional relief available: The attorneys general call on the Department to extend the relief previously provided to all federal loan borrowers for the duration of the crisis. This relief includes waiving payments from borrowers in school who have dropped behind half time enrollment and would regularly begin making student loan payments.
Attorney General Maura Healey is a national leader in advocating for the rights of student loan borrowers. Massachusetts borrowers who are looking for student loan help should call the AG’s Student Loan Assistance Unit at 1-888-830-6277 or for file a complaint. The AG’s Office also has a COVID-19 resources page for information about student loan relief and other ways the office can assist the public during this emergency.
This multistate letter is being led by the New York and Pennsylvania AG’s Offices, and is joined by California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, and Puerto Rico.
In the Massachusetts AG’s Office, this matter was handled by Assistant Attorney General Yael Shavit of Attorney General Maura Healey’s Consumer Protection Division.