student loan2 042320CHAMPAIGN — With the coronavirus outbreak hitting workers and the economy across the state and country, State Senator Scott Bennett highlighted relief options to help people struggling to pay their student loans that could benefit nearly 140,000 Illinoisans.

“Folks struggling financially during this pandemic should not have to choose between paying their student loan payment and putting food on the table,” said Bennett, a member of the Senate Higher Education Committee. “Borrowers in need of assistance should contact their student loan provider immediately to identify the options that are appropriate to their circumstances.”

Under the initiative, spearheaded by Governor JB Pritzker and Secretary Deborah Hagan of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, people with commercially-owned Federal Family Education Program Loans or privately held student loans who are having a hard time making their payments due to COVID-19 will be eligible for expanded relief.

Borrowers who need assistance are asked to immediately contact their student loan provider to set up a plan.

Relief options are based on a person’s individual needs and include:

  • Providing a minimum of 90 days of forbearance,
  • Waiving late payment fees,
  • Ensuring that no borrower is subject to negative credit reporting,
  • Ceasing debt collection lawsuits for 90 days,
  • Working with borrower to enroll them in other borrower assistance programs, such as income-based repayment.

If a person is having problems contacting their student loan servicer, they can contact the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation Division of Banking at 217-785-2900 or the attorney general’s student loan helpline at 1-800-455-2456.