GOP Rep. Stefanik introduces coronavirus student loan relief bill

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Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., introduced a bipartisan bill Wednesday that calls for temporary student loan relief during the coronavirus pandemic for millions of people who borrowed under a now-defunct federal program.

Borrowers who participated in the Federal Family Education Loan program, which ended in 2010, are not covered by the recently passed CARES Act because the loans were not from the Department of Education. Stefanik's Equity in Student Loan Relief Act would keep them from having to make payments through the end of September.

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“While the CARES Act lifted the weight of student loan payments from millions of Americans whose lives have been disrupted by the COVID-19 crisis, too many borrowers are still being left behind,” Stefanik said in a statement. “All students who have federal student loans should have their monthly payments suspended, no matter which type of loan they have or when they borrowed the money."

The bill is co-led by Reps. Lori Trahan, D-Mass., Lloyd Smucker, R-Pa., Alma Adams, D-N.C., and Susie Lee, D-Nev. It calls for the Department of Education to make interest payments on these loans, and make agreements with the loan holders to suspend payment obligations and involuntary collections through Sept. 30.

Like the CARES Act, Stefanik's bill also provides for the months where payments are suspended to still count as payments as far as loan forgiveness programs are concerned.

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“Despite the tremendous progress we made for student loan borrowers in the CARES Act, millions continue to struggle to make mandatory payments under the discontinued Federal Family Education Loan program,” Trahan said in a statement. “This urgent bill will provide immediate relief for families simply trying to make ends meet by extending them the same protections currently guaranteed to most federal student loan borrowers."

The bill's introduction comes as House members return to Washington, D.C., to vote on a new $484 billion stimulus package that would add more funds for the Paycheck Protection Program that offers forgivable loans for small businesses, as well as provide money for hospitals and increased testing.