Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) joined U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and 32 of her Senate colleagues in a letter to U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos calling for swift action to support federal student loan borrowers who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic by using the available relief under the CARES Act and administrative extension. In the letter, the senators call on Secretary DeVos to immediately reach out to borrowers currently missing out on relief and help them consolidate their loans into qualifying loans. They also urge Secretary DeVos to use her administrative authority to improve the consolidation process for borrowers by waiving restrictions and penalties during the national emergency.
“In 2012, the Department successfully spurred widespread take-up of a “special consolidation” option by borrowers holding both commercial FFEL and Direct Loans,” wrote the senators. “This time-limited opportunity offered a 0.5 percent interest rate reduction for borrowers who participated. In contrast, just six months of relief equivalent to the CARES Act offers a greater benefit to a typical borrower over the lifetime of a loan. The Department has an opportunity to follow the same playbook and unlock relief for millions of borrowers.”
The senators continued, “The more than eight million student loan borrowers falling into donut holes of critical relief have missed out on needed benefits and suffered unnecessary complexity and confusion for more than six months. It is essential that the Department immediately begin the targeted outreach and take the actions we are requesting.”
A full copy of the letter can be found HERE.
Senator Cortez Masto has been a strong advocate for Nevadans with student loans. She introduced the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act to allow eligible student borrowers to refinance their federal loans and ease their debt burdens and cosponsored the Pandemic Responder Service Award Act to establish an award program for front-line health care workers who responded to the COVID-19 pandemic to pay off existing student loans, obtain further education, or establish a savings account for various purposes.