To help college students impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, President Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief & Economic Security (CARES) Act on March 27. Freedom Alliance works with hundreds of college students each year, providing them scholarships to make their education more affordable. Each scholarship honors a student’s parent who sacrificed life or limb for our country in military service.
The U.S. Department of Education’s resource page can be viewed here, but to simply your research, we have highlighted below the provisions which most directly impact college students and institutions of higher education:
Suspension of Student Loan Payments: For certain student loans, payments are suspended for six months, from March 13, 2020 thru September 30, 2020. Specifically, this applies to Direct Loan program loans and for Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL) held by the Department of Education and which are not in default.
No Interest on Student Loans: Similarly, from March 13, 2020 thru September 30, 2020, interest is waived on loans held by the Department of Education which are not in default.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness: Students who have loans tied to a Public Service Loan Forgiveness program may skip student loan payments between March 13, 2020 and September 30, 2020 and still have those payments count toward their obligation.
Employer Contribution Toward Student Loans: Through December 31, 2020, employers may make payments of up to $5,250 to an employee’s student loan without it counting toward the worker’s taxable income.
Institutional Assistance to Students: The CARES Act includes a $14 billion Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, at least half of which, must help students. In a letter to college and university presidents, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos instructed them to “get support to those most in need as quickly as possible. That starts with college students whose lives have been disrupted, many of whom are facing financial challenges and struggling to make ends meet.”
Campuses have discretion as to how aid is provided. We encourage students to be proactive with your institution – let them know about your need and circumstance. Here are a few examples of how colleges are dispersing aid. Florida International University is providing emergency grants; Vanderbilt is relying on the Expected Family Contribution as a barometer for qualification; Savannah College of Art & Design is prioritizing student workers and encouraging other students to apply for aid.
In addition, Freedom Alliance is advising students to:
- Check your school’s COVID-19 / Coronavirus information page.
- Check your school’s home page for advice on other forms of help that may be available.
- Check with your school’s Financial Aid office.
- Carefully review emails and other communications from your school for information on financial aid, campus re-openings, class schedules, and additional information.
Other Provisions: The Congressional Research Service compiled an excellent summary of other provisions in the CARES Act.
During this crisis, as we always do, Freedom Alliance is caring for the needs of our scholarship students, ensuring that their parent’s sacrifice will never be forgotten by a grateful nation.
Please be sure to work with your parents and consult your school’s financial aid office. In addition, keep Freedom Alliance’s Scholarship Department updated on your enrollment status.
A Note to Our Benefactors:
Thank you for your continued generosity toward our efforts. With your help, we are ensuring that the sacrifice of heroic Americans is honored through their children. We are grateful for your support. Thank you