With the government shutdown in its fourth week, many federal employees are struggling to pay their bills – including student loan payments.
The Rhode Island Student Loan Authority (RISLA) is responding by offering to put loans on hold, or forbearance, for federal workers who are furloughed or working without pay. Interest will keep accruing, but borrowers will be off the hook for payments while the shutdown continues.
In a statement, RISLA Executive Director Charles Kelley explained, “All federal employees who are not being paid because of the shutdown are eligible and only need to supply the name and telephone number of the federal organization they work for.”
The offer applies to anyone who originally took out loans through RISLA, regardless of where they currently live. RISLA Deputy Director Noel Simpson said, the deal does not include federal student loans.
“We’d like to see others do this, but the federal loan program has not done this as of yet,” Simpson said.
He added, borrowers with federal student loans can request that their loans be put on hold if they can make the case that they’re experiencing economic hardship. Federal lenders may consider those appeals on a case-by-case basis.
Simpson said RISLA has taken similar steps after natural disasters, including Hurricane Sandy. This is the first time the loan authority has put payments on hold during a government shutdown.
Borrowers can request that their loans be suspended by calling 800.758.7562 or 888.897.4752.