As the education sector continues to respond to the coronavirus (“COVID-19”) pandemic, on March 30, United States Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced several initiatives designed to bring “meaningful relief” to students and families.

First, all federal student borrowers can ask their loan servicers to temporarily postpone their payments.

Additionally, if a borrower is more than 31 days behind on his or her bill as of March 13, or if a borrower becomes delinquent, those payments automatically will be suspended.

Finally, federal student borrowers automatically will have the interest on their loans set to zero for at least 60 days, and that interest rate is retroactive to March 13.

These temporary actions are aimed at providing federal student borrowers flexibility during uncertain times.

People in public service jobs, however, will need to think critically about whether to postpone such payments, as opting out of payments will result in a longer path to debt cancellation for those working toward Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

More information on the Department of Education’s approach to federal student lending during this time can be found at the department’s website and at the Federal Student Aid website.