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COVID-19 FAQ: School Loan Programs and Nurse Faculty Loan Program

Updated 11/29/2022

The information on this page applies to borrowers in these programs:

  • Health Professions Student Loan (HPSL)
  • Primary Care Loan (PCL)
  • Loans for Disadvantaged Students (LDS)
  • Nursing Student Loan (NSL)
  • Nurse Faculty Loan Program (NFLP)

If you use a third-party loan servicer, you should communicate this information to them.

Waiver of Interest

We are waiving interest on the above health professions student loan programs from March 13, 2020 until a ruling has been made regarding the debt relief program, or June 30, 2023, whichever comes first. 

Your monthly payments will remain the same, but the full amount of the payment will be applied to already accrued interest and/or the outstanding principal. This means that you are likely to pay balances down more quickly during this zero-interest period.

Loan servicers must make the following changes, effective March 13, 2020:

  • Adjust accounts so that interest does not accrue until a ruling has been made regarding the debt relief program, or June 30, 2023, whichever comes first
  • Notify borrowers of this adjustment
  • Apply any payments during this period to the principal once all the interest that accrued prior to March 13, 2020 is paid.

Administrative Forbearance

If you are unable to make payments on your loans due to the COVID-19 national emergency you may request administrative forbearance from March 13, 2020, until a ruling has been made regarding the debt relief program, or June 30, 2023, whichever comes first.

  • You should contact your loan servicer to request an administrative forbearance to suspend payments.
  • No payments will be due during the period of administrative forbearance.
  • No interest will accrue on loans in forbearance.
  • After the administrative forbearance ends, you must resume making payments.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I get the latest information on changes to these programs?

Program updates will be posted to the School-Based Loans and Scholarships page. In addition, see HRSA's Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information. We will update these pages  with the latest information when it becomes available and as applicable.

Note: We updated these FAQs to reflect the payment pause on federal student pending litigation on the debt relief program. If the debt relief program has not been implemented and the litigation has not been resolved by June 30, 2023, payments will resume after 60 days. 

Loan Interest Waiver

On March 13, 2020, the president announced that interest would be waived on all federally held student loans for sixty days. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act extended the waiver of interest for certain Department of Education student loans. Are loans through the HPSL, PCL, LDS, NSL, and NFLP programs covered by these announcements?

While these provisions do not apply to the NSL, PCL, HPSL, LDS and NFLP programs, HHS has authority to take certain action in light of the COVID-19 national emergency. Utilizing this authority, HHS is instructing loan servicers for loans made through the HPSL, PCL, LDS, NSL, and NFLP programs to waive interest on those loans from March 13, 2020, through June 30, 2023.

If a ruling regarding the Department of Education debit relief program happens before June 30, 2023, interest  may resume immediately upon ruling. But, payments will begin 60 days after that ruling.

How long will interest be waived?

Beginning on March 13, 2020, interest will not accrue until a ruling has been made regarding the debt relief program, or June 30, 2023, whichever comes first. HHS may extend that period, depending on the status of the COVID-19 national emergency.

Do borrowers need to do anything for the interest on the loans to be waived?

No. Loan servicers should automatically adjust accounts so that interest does not accrue during this period, and should notify borrowers. The account adjustment will be effective March 13, 2020. During this period of no interest, if students continue to make payments, the full amount will be applied to principal. However, if the loan had already accrued interest prior to March 13, payments will first be used to pay off that outstanding interest.

Will monthly payments go down because interest is being waived?

No. Monthly payments will remain the same, but the full amount of the payment will be applied to already accrued interest and/or the outstanding principal.

If borrowers make loan payments after March 13, how will those payments be applied?

During the period of no interest, the full payment will be applied to principal once all the interest that accrued prior to March 13, 2020 is paid. As noted below, payments may be suspended without additional interest accruing.

Will defaulted loans accrue interest?

Defaulted loans will not accrue interest from March 13, 2020, until a ruling has been made regarding the debt relief program, or June 30, 2023, whichever comes first.

Does the interest waiver also cover penalty interest rates imposed in cases of default?

Yes, the waiver on interest will apply to all interest rates during the specified period, including those imposed on borrowers in default.

Loans paid in full between April 2020 and May 2020 included paid interest that accrued between March 13, 2020, and the date they were paid in full. Should we adjust interest retroactively from March 13 on accounts that are paid in full and refund the adjusted amount to the borrower?

Yes, retroactively adjust the interest, and return any overpayment to borrowers. 

How will borrowers know when interest will start accruing again?

Loan servicers should inform borrowers of the date when interest will start accruing again. The end date for the zero-interest period is currently set at June 30, 2023. Should that date change due to a ruling regarding the Department of Education debit relief program, we will update this page and contact recipient institutions.

With the interest on loans waived, must schools pay HRSA for the lost interest revenue or absorb that unaccrued interest?

Schools will not be responsible for repaying HRSA or absorbing any portion of the lost interest revenue. Keep accurate and complete documentation to record the interest waived, consistent with the record-keeping requirements already in effect.

Administrative Forbearance

How does the capitalization clause apply to borrowers that were past due prior to March 13, 2020?

Borrowers that were past due on their loan payment before the interest waiver began on March 13, 2020 have been placed in forbearance, meaning that they will not have additional interest calculated during this period. Interest on their outstanding loans will not be calculated again until July 1, 2023, or after litigation surrounding the Department of Education’s debt relief program has been resolved, whichever comes first.

If you defaulted on your loan and the legal proceedings for the delinquent amount began prior to March 13, 2020, this extension may change the amount you owe. How do institutions handle this change in calculation of principal/interest amounts?

Since we don't know what the outcome of the litigation will be, HRSA reserves the right to make a final decision after the case is closed. For borrowers in litigation during the administrative forbearance period, outstanding and unpaid interest on the borrowers account will be accrued until a final legal decision is made.

Administrative forbearance counts as part of the 10-year repayment period. Does this mean your monthly payments will go up after payments resume to ensure your loan is repaid within 10 years?

Borrowers are still required to repay their loans within the 10-year period. We cannot extend the period of repayment. Speak to your loan servicer for additional guidance.

Does the borrower's loan repayment need to be recalculated for the waiver period?

Your loan servicer can work with you and the institution to recalculate your loan repayment amount in line with the 10-year repayment requirement.

On March 20, 2020, the president announced that borrowers could suspend payments on their student loans. What should borrowers do to suspend payments?

While the president’s announcement does not apply to the NSL, PCL, HPSL, LDS and NFLP programs, HHS has authority to take certain action in light of the COVID-19 national emergency. Utilizing this authority, HHS is instructing loan servicers for loans made through the HPSL, PCL, LDS, NSL, and NFLP programs to provide an administrative forbearance from March 13, 2020 until a ruling has been made regarding the debt relief program, or June 30, 2023, whichever comes first, for borrowers who request it.

Borrowers who are unable to make payments on their loans due to the COVID-19 national emergency should contact their loan servicer to request an administrative forbearance to suspend payments during the period of forbearance. Being in an administrative forbearance means that a borrower can temporarily stop making loan payments for loans subject to the forbearance without becoming delinquent.

Given that HHS is waiving interest for these loan programs starting March 13, 2020, interest will not accrue while the loans are in forbearance. Borrowers who request an administrative forbearance will not have any payments due for as long as the administrative forbearance lasts. Loan servicers should cancel any scheduled auto-debit payments. After the administrative forbearance ends, borrowers must resume making payments.

How long will the administrative forbearance last?

The administrative forbearance will last from March 13, 2020, until a ruling has been made regarding the debt relief program, or June 30, 2023, whichever comes first. HHS may extend that period, depending on the status of the COVID-19 national emergency, and will contact recipient institutions and provide notification on its website if the timeframe is extended. If the option for an administrative forbearance is extended, loan servicers will be directed to communicate information about the extension to their borrowers.

How should loans already in forbearance be handled?

Loans already in forbearance will stop accruing interest starting on March 13, 2020. However, when the loan goes back into repayment status, any interest that accrued during the forbearance period prior to March 13, 2020, will capitalize, which means that any outstanding interest will be added to the principal balance.

Can a borrower continue making partial payments while their loan is in forbearance?

As long as a loan is in forbearance, a borrower will not be penalized for making a payment that is less than the usual monthly payment. Borrowers still have the option to make a payment on their loan in order to make progress toward reducing the balance.

Will the interest that accrued on loans before the administrative forbearance began on March 13 be capitalized (added to the loans) at the end of the administrative forbearance?

Interest might be capitalized at the end of the coronavirus-related administrative forbearance period, depending on the loan’s status prior to March 13, 2020. 

  • If payments were up to date before the administrative forbearance period began, interest accrued prior to March 13 will not capitalize.
  • If, before the administrative forbearance period began, the loan was in the type of deferment or forbearance in which interest would normally be capitalized, then interest accrued prior to March 13 will capitalize when the original deferment or forbearance ends, whichever is later.
  • For borrowers in the grace period before the administrative forbearance period began, any outstanding or unpaid interest on the account will capitalize as usual when the loan enters repayment.

Does the COVID administrative forbearance count against a borrower’s maximum allowable forbearance periods (if any) or against the borrower’s repayment period under the loan regulations?

The COVID-19 administrative forbearance counts toward the repayment period (i.e., 10 years for the NSL program, 25 years for the HPSL, PCL, and LDS programs, per the Public Health Service Act), and grantees must advise BHW if they plan on granting a forbearance. The institution determines whether the COVID-19 administrative forbearance counts against a borrower’s maximum allowable forbearance period. 

How should credit reporting entities handle forbearance?

HRSA does not have authority to dictate credit reporting entities’ policies. We recommend borrowers reach out directly to the entity to discuss any issues related to credit reporting.

Loans in Default

What if a borrower is already more than 31 days past due on their student loan payments, or becomes more than 31 days delinquent after that date?

If a borrower is at least 31 days behind on their payments as of March 13, 2020, or becomes more than 31 days delinquent after that date, loan servicers should automatically place borrowers in an administrative forbearance.

Does the automatic forbearance apply to loans whose borrowers are more than 31 days past due as of March 13, 2020 that have already been placed with external collection agencies?

Yes, the automatic forbearance applies to defaulted loans.

Should borrowers placed with a collection agency prior to March 13, 2020, remain in collections?

Yes, borrowers already in collections should remain in collections. However, no interest should accrue on their loans for the period March 13, 2020, until a ruling has been made regarding the debt relief program, or June 30, 2023, whichever comes first, and loan servicers should place borrowers in an administrative forbearance during that period.

For loans already in collections, will borrower-paid collection costs be waived during this period?

We cannot waive the cost for the servicer to administer the loan. However, since payments are suspended and no collection activities are occurring during the COVID administrative forbearance period, no additional collection costs should be charged. 

Reporting Requirements

Will HRSA require any special tracking or reporting for these loans/processes on the annual operating report (AOR) or annual performance report (APR)?

At this time, we do not anticipate making any changes to the AOR or APR (whichever is applicable to your grant) to track these loans, but institutions maintaining a student loan program must continue to adhere to standard record-keeping requirements.

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