U.S. Department of Education officials announced Wednesday a 60 day suspension of collection actions and wage garnishments against default student loan borrowers to provide additional assistance to those borrowers amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Additionally, private collection agencies have been instructed to halt all collection activities, including making phone calls to borrowers and issuing collection letters and billing statements.
There are currently over 5 million borrowers in default on a federal or private student loan, according to some 2019 government estimates.
The suspension is retroactive to March 13.
"These are difficult times for many Americans, and we don't want to do anything that will make it harder for them to make ends meet or create additional stress," U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said in a statement.
About 57% of Georgians who have recently earned college degrees have student loan debt, according to a 2019 report by The Institute for College Access and Success. The average student loan debt is about $29,000. About one in three University of Georgia students borrow money to attend while about one-half of students Georgia State and Kennesaw State universities borrow money to pay for tuition, state data shows.
The Trump administration has made several changes since declaring a national emergency to the virus to help borrowers. They include allowing borrowers with federally held student loans to suspend their payments for the next two months and all interest waived on federal student loans.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.