Efforts to fight the spread of COVID-19 have disrupted life in many ways. If you are a college student, a college-bound student, or a college graduate paying off loans, here are some ways you might be affected. Please keep in mind that this situation is constantly changing. Refer specific questions about your coursework or your financial aid to your college or university.
If you are currently in college
Some colleges have taken their programs entirely online for fall 2020, some are still offering in-person classes, and many have adopted a hybrid model. If your school’s programs change in the middle of a term due to the pandemic, your state financial aid should not be affected as long as you take advantage of all available options to continue your coursework. However, if you do not take advantage of available options, or if you fail to meet class requirements, your financial aid might be recalculated.
If you plan to start college next year
Continue with your preparations: Submit college applications, file the FAFSA as soon as possible after October 1, and apply for scholarships and grants. Because SAT and ACT testing were disrupted in spring 2020, some schools have waived these requirements for students enrolling in fall 2021; check with your admissions office.
If your financial situation has changed due to the pandemic
Here is advice from Federal Student Aid: “The FAFSA form uses tax information from two years prior to the award year. If your family’s financial situation has changed dramatically since filing taxes, you should complete the FAFSA questions as required, submit the FAFSA form, then contact the school you plan to attend and discuss your situation with the financial aid office.”
If you are paying off student loans
The U.S. Department of Education has suspended payments and interest accrual on federal student loans until December 31, 2020. Some private lenders have voluntarily done the same. If your income drops dramatically, you might qualify for additional deferment or forbearance. Find more information here.