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ANNOUNCEMENT REGARDING FEDERAL STUDENT LOAN RELIEF: COVID-19 AND FORGIVENESS




Throughout this page, the following definitions apply:


“Government-owned Loans” – Student loans that are owned by the Department of Education, which include Federal Direct Stafford Loans, Federal Direct Parent Loans, Federal Direct Consolidation Loans and Department owned loans made under the FFEL Program.


“Commercial FFELP Loans” – Student loans that were made under the FFEL Program which are held by private, commercial lenders, non-profits and state agencies and are guaranteed by the federal government. These include FFEL Stafford Loans, FFEL Parent Loans, and FFEL Consolidation Loans. Commercial FFELP Loans ceased being made for new student loan originations as of July 1, 2010.


“Private Student Loans” – Student loans made by private, commercial lenders, non-profits and state agencies with no direct involvement from the federal government. Private student loans may include refinance loans, in-school loans, and parent loans.




We are in unprecedented times. We want to be sure you have all of the information and tools you need to make informed decisions regarding your student loans.


In response to COVID-19, the federal government has put in place relief measures for borrowers who have Government-owned Loans. The relief measures have been automatically applied to Government-owned Loans effective March 13, 2020 and, at this time, will extend until at least January 31, 2022. These relief measures are as follows:


  • Payments will be suspended (meaning no payments are due)
  • Interest will not accrue

For additional information and details contact your federal loan servicer or see Coronavirus and Forbearance Info for Students, Borrowers, and Parents at the Federal Student Aid website.


In addition, with the incoming administration and changes in Congress, there is a real possibility of enactment of a program that will allow for Student Loan Forgiveness for certain student loan borrowers that have Government-owned Loans. There are no specifics at this time, but it is more likely now than it was prior to the election that some form of federal student loan forgiveness program will be enacted.


Commercial FFEL Loans and Private Student Loans do not qualify for the federal student loan relief measures and will most likely not be eligible for any federal loan forgiveness program if enacted. Further, if you refinance any of your Government-owned Loans into a Private Student Loan, like a private refinance loan, the Government-owned Loans that you refinance will no longer be eligible for any federal relief measures or programs.


PLEASE NOTE: IF YOU HAVE COMMERCIAL FFEL LOANS YOU MAY BE ABLE TO CONSOLIDATE THOSE LOANS INTO A FEDERAL DIRECT CONSOLIDATION LOAN TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE RELIEF MEASURES AND PROGRAMS DESCRIBED ABOVE.


There are many factors to consider in deciding if a federal direct consolidation loan is right for you, even with the relief measures described above. We recommend you contact your existing student loan servicer(s) to discuss all of your options before making any decisions, especially if you are having difficulty making payments on your student loans. In addition, you can find more information on the pros and cons of a federal direct consolidation loan at studentaid.gov.


Not sure if you have Government-Owned Loans, Commercial FFEL Loans or Private Student Loans? Contact your servicer or click here to get more information.



Brazos Refinance Loans


Why are you telling me this, doesn’t it apply to all loans?

The temporary relief measures only apply to Government-owned Loans. The temporary relief measures do not apply to Commercial FFEL Loans or Private Student Loans. If you are unsure which of your loans, if any, are owned by the federal government, contact your existing student loan servicer(s).


Why does this matter if I want to refinance all of my existing student loans and take advantage of your low advertised rates?

If you have Government-owned Loans and you refinance them in to a Brazos Refinance Loan, you will not be able to take advantage of the temporary relief measures described above. As such, you should very carefully consider your personal financial situation amid the COVID-19 crisis and the benefits and savings the temporary relief measures give you in the short term against the longer term benefits and savings you have available to you as a result of the low rates offered on the Brazos Refinance Loan.


If I have Commercial FFEL Loans or Private Student Loans, or both, can I go ahead and refinance those in to a Brazos Refinance Loan to take advantage of the low rates?

You do not have to include all of your student loans in to a Brazos Refinance Loan. You can control which student loans you include and which you leave out. If you have only Private Student Loans, the financial considerations that you must take into account in deciding whether or not to refinance with a Brazos Refinance Loan have not changed. If you have Commercial FFEL Loans, that are Stafford or Parent Loans, you might look in to the pros and cons of including your Commercial FFEL Loan in to a Federal Direct Consolidation Loan to take advantage of the federal measures and programs.


If I decide to wait to refinance all or some of my loans in light of the temporary relief measures, can’t I just refinance once those measures are no longer in place and get the same low rate on a Brazos Refinance Loan?

It is hard to predict what interest rates will look like at the end of the temporary relief period. Given the financial impact of COVID-19 across the county and other factors, such as the availability of capital, the interest rates available today may not be the interest rates available in the coming months. While we strive to offer the best rate to Texans that are available in the market, it is possible that our rates could increase over the coming months.


If I decide to take out a Brazos Refinance Loan now, but my financial situation changes due to COVID-19 and I am unable to make payments, can’t I get payments suspended just like the Government-owned Loans?

No. As explained above, the temporary relief measures are only applicable to Government-owned Loans. Brazos has approved a special Disaster Forbearance for COVID-19 that would be available to you if you experience hardship as a result of COVID-19. Please note that interest will continue to accrue during this time. You can obtain more information on the specifics of the special Disaster Forbearance that is available on your loans by contacting your servicer, Firstmark. You may request the special Disaster Forbearance verbally, by phone, by contacting Firstmark once your loan is funded. In addition, Firstmark will be in the best position to advise you of any other repayment/forbearance options that may be available to you if you are having trouble making your payments.


Brazos Parent Loans


What about origination fees? Is the government still charging origination fees for a new Federal Direct Parent Loan?

The origination fee will still be charged on Federal Direct Parent Loans. There is no origination fee on a Brazos Parent Loan.


If I decide to take out a Brazos Parent Loan, but my financial situation changes and I am unable to make payments due to COVID-19, can’t I just have you suspend my payments just like with the federal loans?

No. As explained above, the temporary relief measures are only applicable to Government-owned Loans. Brazos has approved a special Disaster Forbearance for COVID-19 that would be available to you if you experience hardship as a result of COVID-19. Please note that interest will continue to accrue during this time. You can obtain more information about this special Disaster Forbearance that is available on your loans by contacting your servicer, Firstmark. Once your loan is funded, you can request this special Disaster Forbearance verbally, by phone, with Firstmark. In addition, Firstmark will be in the best position to advise you of any other repayment/forbearance options that may be available to you.


You may have heard about the temporary relief measures put in place for Government-owned Loans that provide relief from payments and interest during these trying times, as well as potential student loan forgiveness programs. These relief measures and programs do not apply to your student loans that are owned by a Brazos Managed Company. Please continue reading for information regarding your existing loans. As noted above, you may be able to consolidate your Commercial FFEL Loan that is owned by a Brazos Managed Company into a federal direct consolidation to take full advantage of the relief measures and programs. You should contact your servicer(s) to get more information on whether or not your Commercial FFEL Loan qualifies for consolidation with the federal direct loan program and the pros and cons of consolidating into a federal direct consolidation loan given your situation.


Why don’t I get the interest waiver and suspension of payments being given to borrowers with loans owned by the federal government if my loans are owned by a private lender?

The measures put in place by the CARES Act were put in place for Government-owned Loans only. Because the loans are owned by the federal government, the federal government can decide to give up payments and interest for a period of time and have the means to subsidize the money they are giving up, such as with taxpayer dollars. Private Lenders do not have the same means by which to subsidize incoming payments and interest and rely on that income, in many instances, for maintaining their operations and staff. As well many student loans are pledged in the markets to bond holders who must be paid. Defaults in the many large securities backed by student loan assets would have a significant negative impact in the financial markets. As such, private lenders don’t have the same flexibility in changing the financial return on student loans or on suspending payments as does the federal government.


As a result of COVID-19, I cannot go to work or have lost my job and cannot make payments on my student loans. Are you saying there is nothing available to help me?

The Brazos Managed Companies have approved a special Disaster Forbearance for borrowers who are having trouble making their student loan payments as a result of this crisis. The special Disaster Forbearance can be requested verbally through your student loan servicer. Interest will continue to accrue during the forbearance period. There may also be other repayment and/or forbearance options available to you that can provide relief if you are having trouble making payments.


If you have certain Commercial FFEL Loans, consolidating your FFEL loans through the direct loan program is one way to take advantage of the temporary relief measures and programs. There are many factors to consider in deciding if a federal direct consolidation loan is right for you. Every individual’s situation is different and you must understand what you gain, and what you are giving up, with a federal direct consolidation loan to determine if it is right for you. You can find more information on the pros and cons of a federal direct consolidation loan at studentaid.gov.

We recommend you contact your existing student loan servicer(s) to discuss all of your options before making any decisions, especially if you are having difficulty making payments on your student loans. Your student loan servicer is in the best position to provide you information on all of your options based on your student loans and your specific needs.


How do I contact my existing student loan servicer?

The Brazos Managed Companies use four of the major student loan servicers to service loans. Below is a list of the servicers, including their websites and telephone numbers.


AES-PHEAA

1-800-233-0557


Firstmark


1-888-538-7378


Navient/SLMA


1-888-272-5543


Nelnet


1-888-486-4722


How do I know who my servicer is?


There are a number of ways you can find the loan servicer for your loan(s):

  1. Check your monthly billing statement – your billing statement comes from your loan servicer and will contain all relevant contact information.
  2. For federal loans, the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) is a tool that can be used to find out what federal loans you have. NSLDS will also identify your loan servicer for each of your loan(s). Visit the NSLDS website or call at 1-800-FED-AID.
  3. You also can always call us at 1-800-375-9208 and we will do our best to help you identify your loan servicer.

What if I am delinquent now, can I still use the Disaster Forbearance?

If you are delinquent, in order to assist you even further, the servicers have been given discretion to use an Administrative Forbearance to bring your account current and then apply the Disaster Forbearance.


What if I end up not needing all of the time available to me on the Disaster Forbearance?

You can always call and cancel the Disaster Forbearance and ask to be placed back in to repayment.


If my loans are at a collection agency, will I be getting collection calls and taken to litigation?

Our collection agencies have resumed normal collection and litigation activities where allowed.