Important COVID-19 Federal Student Loan Information

Last updated August 24, 2021

Great Lakes Educational Loan Services, along with the U.S. Department of Education's office of Federal Student Aid (FSA), is monitoring relief measures for federal student loans related to the COVID-19 emergency.

You can log in to your myGreatLakes account at any time to see your loan status. You can also visit FSA's COVID-19 information page at StudentAid.gov/coronavirus. We encourage you to check FSA's page regularly, as it includes information about relief to federal student loan borrowers, including those who have defaulted on their federal student loans.

Latest Update:

On August 6, 2021, the U.S. Department of Education announced a final extension of COVID-19 emergency relief measures for federal student loans. Student loan payments will restart after January 31, 2022.

Here's what this means for your federal student loan(s):

  • Your account will be updated to reflect the new extension, and you will not have to make payments through January 31, 2022.
  • Your interest rate remains at 0%, from March 13, 2020, through January 31, 2022.
  • If you wish to make payments, you can do so anytime during the COVID-19 administrative forbearance (payment pause).
  • Paused payments count toward income-driven repayment (IDR) forgiveness and Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) as long as you meet all other qualifications.

Additional Important Information

Here are some things to keep in mind during this payment pause. Some of these will apply to all borrowers, and some will apply to borrowers in particular circumstances.

  • IDR recertifications are now due on or after July 31, 2022. Income-driven repayment (IDR) plan annual recertification due dates occurring between March 13, 2020, and July 31, 2022, are all now due no sooner than July 31, 2022. We will send notification of your new recertification due date before it is time to recertify. If you are on an IDR plan and your income has changed significantly, you can apply now for a new monthly payment amount that would start after the payment pause ends.
    • Example 1: If your IDR recertification was due on October 1, 2021, the new recertification date is October 1, 2022.
    • Example 2: If your next IDR recertification was originally scheduled to occur on February 15, 2022, it is now scheduled for February 15, 2023.
  • If you wish to make payments to save money in the long run, you can do so anytime during the COVID-19 payment pause. Log in to your account to make a one-time payment.
  • You can get a refund for any payment, including those through Auto Pay, you make during the payment pause (beginning March 13, 2020). To request a refund, please contact us.
  • If you want to opt out of the COVID-19 payment pause, please contact us. By opting out, payments will be due every month going forward. You'll receive either online or paper billing statements, depending on your communication preference you have selected on your account. No interest will accrue through January 31, 2022. If your account becomes 30 or more days past due, FSA requires that we reapply the administrative forbearance (payment pause).
  • If you are on Auto Pay, the COVID-19 payment pause stopped your Auto Pay payments. If you want to continue Auto Pay during the payment pause, you can make that happen. To do so, go to Payments > Auto Pay and update your settings by entering new amounts and selecting new payment dates. This enables you to have payments of the amount you specify withdrawn while you're still in the payment pause. Before the end of this payment pause, we'll reach out to tell you how much your scheduled monthly payment through Auto Pay will be after the payment pause ends. You can also continue your Auto Pay payments by contacting us to opt out of the payment pause.
  • Months in the payment pause count toward forgiveness. Paused payments count toward IDR forgiveness and PSLF as long as you meet all other qualifications.
  • The COVID-19 payment pause is a non-capitalizing forbearance. Exiting the COVID-19 payment pause will not cause outstanding interest to capitalize. However, if you had any accrued interest as of March 13, 2020 (when the payment pause began), your outstanding interest may capitalize after the payment pause ends. It depends on your individual situation. Please call us so we can look at your specific circumstances.

FAQs for Great Lakes Borrowers

Yes.

Yes. To opt out, you can contact us. If you opt out, payments will be due every month going forward. You'll receive either online or paper billing statements, depending on your communication preference you have selected on your account. No interest will accrue through January 31, 2022.

If you opt out of the payment pause and then experience a change in income, please contact us as soon as possible to discuss options. You may be able to enroll in an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan to lower your payments or opt back in to the payment pause.

Continuing to make payments during the payment pause could help you pay down your loan balance more quickly. The full amount of a payment will be applied to your principal balance once you've paid all interest that accrued before March 13, 2020. There is no penalty for partial (less than the regular monthly payment amount) payments during the payment pause.

If you want to make payments during the payment pause, simply log in to your account and select Pay Online or use our mobile app. You can also mail payments to the U.S. Department of Education, P.O. Box 790321, St. Louis, MO 63719-0321. Be sure to include your Payment Reference Number on your check. Note: you will not receive a monthly billing statement during the payment pause, but you can view your account details when you log in to your account.

The COVID-19 payment pause stopped your Auto Pay payments. If you want to continue Auto Pay during the payment pause, you can make that happen. To do so, go to Payments > Auto Pay and modify your settings by entering new amounts and selecting new payment dates. This enables you to have payments of the amount you specify withdrawn while you're still in the payment pause. Please note that before the end of this payment pause, we'll reach out to tell you how much your scheduled monthly payment through Auto Pay will be after the payment pause ends.

You can make one-time payments online by logging in to your account and selecting Pay Online or by using our mobile app. You can also mail payments to the U.S. Department of Education, P.O. Box 790321, St. Louis, MO 63719-0321. Be sure to include your Payment Reference Number on your check.

You can apply for IDR or a deferment while the payment pause is in place. But your request would NOT take effect until February 1, 2022, which is the day after the payment pause is currently scheduled to end. Applying now may help you by allowing you to base your IDR plan on your current income. If you apply now, you may also get your application processed before the potential rush of applications when payments resume.

If you would like to enroll in an IDR plan for the first time, visit StudentAid.gov/idr, choose "Apply Now," and start the application.

If you are on an IDR plan and your income or household income has changed significantly, you can update your information and get a new payment amount based on your current income. To do so, visit StudentAid.gov/idr and choose "Apply Now." Then start the application by choosing the button next to "Recalculate my monthly payment." After the payment pause ends, your monthly payments will resume at the new amount.

No. A non-capitalizing administrative forbearance was applied to your account to bring it up to date before the COVID-19 payment pause was applied. Exiting the payment pause will not cause outstanding interest to capitalize. However, if you had any accrued interest as of March 13, 2020 (when the payment pause began), your outstanding interest may capitalize after the payment pause ends. If you are interested in avoiding capitalization, you can contact us in advance to pay the interest owed prior to March 13, 2020. Please contact us so we can look at your specific circumstances.

Your loans have been placed into the administrative forbearance (payment pause). Cancer treatment deferment annual recertification due dates occurring between March 13, 2020, and July 31, 2022, are all now due no sooner than July 31, 2022. We will send notification of your new recertification due date before it is time to recertify. When the payment pause ends, you will be placed back into the cancer treatment deferment.

  • Example 1: If your cancer treatment deferment recertification was due on October 1, 2021, the new recertification date is October 1, 2022.
  • Example 2: If your next cancer treatment deferment recertification was originally scheduled to occur on February 15, 2022, it is now scheduled for February 15, 2023.

Yes. However, consolidation can sometimes result in a higher interest rate. You may find that your interest rate is higher than what you paid previously once the 0% interest rate period ends. In addition, when you consolidate, any outstanding interest will be added to your principal balance (capitalized). If you consolidate, you will also lose credit for any qualifying IDR or PSLF payments you may have previously made. You can call us at (800) 236-4300 for information about how your loan balance, interest rate, and total amount to be paid would change if you consolidate into a Direct Consolidation Loan.

Your loan payments will be paused, and your interest rate will remain at 0% until the end of the COVID-19 emergency relief period. For example, if your loans entered repayment on April 15, 2020, your payments will be paused from April 15, 2020, through January 31, 2022. The interest rate on your loan will be 0% during this period. This means that your first payment will not be due until after January 31, 2022. You will receive a billing statement about three weeks before your payment is due showing your due date and the payment amount. Note that entering repayment is a capitalization event. Any interest that accrued on your loans before March 13, 2020 will capitalize (be added to your principal balance) at the end of your grace period. You can make payments during your grace period to avoid capitalization of some or all of your outstanding interest.

The 0% interest rate period and payment pause have been extended until January 31, 2022. We'll notify you via mail or email to remind you that you will need to start making payments again. Make sure your contact information is up to date in your online account.

Timeline of Federal Action on Student Loan Flexibilities

On March 20, 2020, the office of Federal Student Aid began providing the following temporary relief on ED-owned federal student loans: suspension of loan payments, stopped collections on defaulted loans, and a 0% interest rate.

On March 27, 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), became law, providing for the above relief measures on ED-owned federal student loans through September 30, 2020.

On August 8, 2020, the COVID-19 emergency relief measures were extended through December 31, 2020.

On December 4, 2020, the COVID-19 emergency relief measures were extended through January 31, 2021.

On January 20, 2021, the COVID-19 emergency relief measures were extended through September 30, 2021.

On August 6, 2021, the COVID-19 emergency relief measures were extended until January 31, 2022.

Additional COVID-19 Information

The health and well-being of our associates and customers is very important to us. We've been taking proactive steps to protect our associates and communities and are prepared to serve our customers as the situation evolves with the COVID-19 pandemic.

If You're Impacted

Our call centers are fully staffed by our associates who are working from the safety of their home. If you have questions, call us at (800) 236-4300 or TTY: 711. Our hours of operations are Monday - Friday 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Central time.

Please know that you can also access your accounts 24/7 on our website, mobile app, or automated voice response system to:

  • Check your account balance and loan status
  • Find out when your next payment is due
  • Get confirmation of a recent payment
  • Make a payment
  • Request a deferment or forbearance
  • Request a repayment plan change, such as income-driven repayment (IDR)
  • Get your IRS Form 1098-E for the amount of student loan interest you paid last year
  • Update your contact information

Find answers to other questions you may have in our Knowledge Center.

It's our goal to provide the best service possible to you. We're in this together. We're here if you need us.