NJ expands payment relief for student loan borrowers

Many private student loan servicers will now provide relief to borrowers in New Jersey because of the COVID-19 pandemic. An estimated 200,000 residents of that state who have privately held student loans could qualify for relief.

Under the new initiative, New Jersey residents with commercially-owned Federal Family Education Program Loans or privately held student loans who are struggling to make their payments due to the COVID-19 pandemic will be eligible for expanded relief. The New Jersey initiative is modeled on the agreement made by the New York Department of Financial Services with commercial student loan servicers in the state.

Borrowers in New Jersey who need assistance must immediately contact their student loan servicers to identify options that are appropriate for their circumstances. Relief options offered by participating servicers include:

  • Providing a minimum of 90 days of forbearance relief for borrowers; 
  • Waiving late payment fees for borrowers;
  • Ensuring no borrower is subject to negative credit reporting;
  • Ceasing debt collection lawsuits for 90 days; and
  • Working with eligible borrowers to enroll them in other applicable borrower assistance programs.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and Department of Banking and Insurance Commissioner Marlene Caride announced Tuesday that the state had secured the relief options with the private student loan servicers.

The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provided relief for students with federal loans, including the suspension of monthly payments, interest, and involuntary collection activity until September 30. But the CARES Act does not apply to student loan borrowers with federal loans that are not owned by the U.S. Government.

“Far too many New Jerseyans struggle with crushing student loan debt in good times, and our current crisis has only exacerbated the problem,” Murphy said in a statement Tuesday. “This initiative will provide much needed relief to New Jerseyans who are struggling with student loans and other financial obligations during this crisis.”

The initiative builds on the effort to help student loan borrowers who are served by the New Jersey’s Higher Education Student Assistance Authority. Last month, officials announced that borrowers with loans from the New Jersey College Loans to Assist State Students program could apply for payment relief programs.

The following private student loan servicers are providing relief to borrowers:

Aspire Resources, Inc.
College Ave Student Loan Servicing, LLC
Earnest Operations, LLC
Edfinancial Services, LLC
Kentucky Higher Education Student Loan Corporation
Lendkey Technologies, Inc.
Higher Education Loan Authority of the State of Missouri (MOHELA)
Navient Corp.
Nelnet, Inc.
SoFi Lending Corp.
Tuition Options, LLC
Utah Higher Education Assistance Authority (UHEAA)
Vermont Student Assistance Corporation (VSAC) 

New Jersey officials worked on the initiative with officials from California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington. Numerous student loan servicers have been working with borrowers, and additional loan servicers are expected to sign onto the initiative. More information and a list of participating servicers can be found at dobi.nj.gov

To determine the types of federal loans they have and who their servicers are, borrowers can visit the U.S. Department of Education’s National Student Loan Data System at nslds.ed.gov or call the Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-433-3243 or 1-800-730-8913 (TDD). Borrowers with private student loans can also check the contact information on their monthly billing statements. 

Residents who have questions or are experiencing trouble with their student loan servicer can contact the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance Consumer Hotline at 1-800-446-7467 from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, or go to the department’s website and click on Consumer Assistance – Inquiries/Complaints, at https://www.dobi.nj.gov

For more information, see COVID-19 related questions and answers for NJCLASS borrowers:  https://www.hesaa.org/Documents/Misc/NJCLASS_Q_n_A.pdf