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Shaheen Urges DeVos to Help 8.2 Million Federal Student Loan Borrowers Currently Unable to Access Relief

**8.2 million federal student loan borrowers currently cannot access critical relief made available by the CARES Act, including a freeze on all payments, interest, and collections**

**In a letter, Shaheen and 33 Senators urge DeVos to use her existing authority to make sure these struggling borrowers don’t fall through the cracks**

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and a group of 33 Senators sent a letter urging Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to ensure all struggling federal student borrowers can gain access to crucial federal relief.

Since March, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act has provided forbearance, waived interest, and halted collections for borrowers whose student loans were directly held by the U.S. Department of Education. But, according to new information from the Department, 8.2 million federal student loan borrowers currently cannot take advantage of this relief, because some or all of their loans do not qualify. Of those borrowers, 4.4 million people are not receiving any relief, and 3.8 million people have a mix of loans that qualify and those that do not. To ensure that these borrowers don’t continue to face unnecessary financial struggles and confusion, in their letter, the Senators urged Secretary DeVos to take immediate action to help them qualify for much-needed relief.

“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,” wrote the Senators. “It is essential that the Department immediately begin the targeted outreach and take the actions we are requesting.”

In their letter, the Senators pressed Secretary DeVos to immediately reach out to borrowers currently missing out on relief and help them consolidate their loans into qualifying loans. They also urged Secretary DeVos to use her administrative authority to improve the consolidation process for borrowers by waiving restrictions and penalties during the national emergency.

U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) led the letter, which was also signed by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Bob Casey (D-PA), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Angus King (D-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Edward Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Jack Reed (D-RI), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Bernie Sanders (D-VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Tina Smith (D-MN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Tom Udall (D-NM), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Ron Wyden (D-OR).

The full letter can be read HERE.

Senator Shaheen has fought for debt relief for students impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In August, Shaheen urged Senate leadership to include long-term assistance for millions of Americans with student loans in a COVID-19 relief package. Shaheen introduced the Bank on Students Coronavirus Emergency Loan Refinancing Act with Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), which would allow student loan borrowers to refinance their student loan debt down to the historically low federal Stafford Student Loan rates. Their bill is based on legislation she introduced last year with a group of lawmakers to allow undergraduate borrowers repaying public or private loans to refinance those loans at lower interest rates, reducing monthly payments and helping borrowers repay loans sooner. In March, Shaheen sent a letter to Congressional negotiators with Senator Warren, as well as Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Dick Durbin (D-IL), urging negotiators to cancel student loan payments for the duration of the emergency and calling for $10,000 in debt forgiveness.