Federal student loan forbearance, interest accumulation and federal student loan collection activities will continue until January 31, 2021.

The forbearance was originally scheduled to expire on December 31. The U.S. Secretary of Education announced the extension last week as Congress also continues to debate providing economic relief to consumers through legislation similar to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES).

As Congress continues to debate a possible stimulus package by the end of the year, there have been discussions about including additional moratoriums on student loan payments.

Meanwhile, consumers can still make payments on their federal student loans if they choose to do so. According to a Press release the Ministry of Education, “Non-payments will continue to count towards the number of payments required under an income-based repayment plan, loan rehabilitation agreement, or civil service loan forgiveness program . “

ACA International members have set up hardship programs to help consumers and encourage them to ask questions about their loan payments, even during the forbearance period.

“The coronavirus pandemic has presented challenges for many students and borrowers, and this temporary pause in payments will help those who have been affected,” Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said in the press release. “Overtime also allows Congress to do its job and determine what action it deems necessary and appropriate. It is Congress, not the executive, that is in charge of student loan policy.

Federal Student Aid is working with Federal Student Loans Services to notify borrowers of relief measures, according to the press release.

The instruction issued in March 2020 for employers to stop wage garnishments for borrowers with delinquent federal student loans also remains in place, and all defaulting borrowers who continue to have their wages garnished will receive repayments, reports the Ministry of Education.

The loan forbearance began after President Donald Trump declared a national emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic and using the authority of the Department of Education under the Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act (HEROES) for health and economic recovery. It was extended under the CARES Act. President-elect Joe Biden can also authorize an extension of student loan relief. Biden has expressed support for a proposal by Democrats in the United States House of Representatives to extend relief until September 2021 and write off some student loan debt, according to CNN.

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