News & Updates

Looking for the latest news in the world of student loans and LRAP? Check out our announcements below.

Student Loan News

Great news! Despite calling the January 31, 2022 federal student loan forbearance extension the “final” extension, we’ve just received news that the Biden administration is extending the forbearance again until May 1, 2022. As has been the case since March 2020, federal student loan payments will not be due, interest rates will be 0%, and non-payments will count toward PSLF.

You can review our COVID-19 & student loans webpage for instructions about LRAP during this time.

On October 16, 2021, the Department of Education announced new improvements to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program to restore the promise of PSLF.

The Dep’t of Ed is calling the new improvement a “Limited Waiver Opportunity.” Made under the Department’s executive authority during an emergency, the waiver will be in place until October 31, 2022. The waiver will allow borrowers to receive PSLF credit for all payments made while working full-time for a PSLF-qualifying employer, regardless of federal loan type or payment plan. This includes loan types and repayment plans that were previously not eligible for PSLF, and payments that were late or not made in the full amount due.

The waiver alone will benefit over 550,000 borrowers. As of November 23, already 30,000 borrowers have received PSLF under the new waiver. Around 60% of borrowers who submit PSLF Forms have ineligible FFEL loans–this waiver will help those borrowers become eligible.

For distilled information about the changes, check out this handy Consumer Protection Guide by the Berkeley Center for Consumer Law and Economic Justice for FAQs on this topic, or our Google Doc.

FedLoan Servicing, Granite State Management & Resources, and Navient recently announced they will not renew their contracts with the Department of Education. If your loans are managed by one of these servicers, they will be transferred to a different servicer by the end of the year.

If your servicer is FedLoan Servicing, your loans will be transferred to MOHELA. If your servicer is GSMR, your loans will be transferred to Edfinancial. And if your servicer is Navient, your loans will be transferred to Maximus / Aidvantage.

To prepare for the transition:

  • Update your contact information now so you can receive emails and letters about the transition to the correct address.
  • Download and save everything you can from your loan servicer’s website–payment histories, billing statements, income-driven repayment plan documents, PSLF/Employer Verification Form acceptances and approvals, notices about the federal forbearance, etc.–before the transfer occurs. Keep all of those documents saved for your PSLF records. Some borrowers have had problems after previous transfers, with new loan servicers claiming some payments didn’t count toward PSLF. You’ll want to make sure you have proof of all your payments so you’re able to refute any claims like that if they arise.
  • Take note of your loan balance at the time of the transfer. Once your transfer is complete, make sure the loan balance is correct.
  • Your existing repayment plan should transfer over with your loans, but make sure your monthly payment amount is correct after the transfer is complete.

Have questions about how to prepare for the transfer or ensure sure your PSLF records are complete? Email us at lrap@law.berkeley.edu.

If you’re looking for a deep dive into some of the latest student loan law changes and predictions about what’s to come, you can view the Center for Consumer Law and Economic Justice‘s Changes to Student Loan Law panel, presented September 23, 2021. Panelists include Persis Yu of the National Consumer Law Center and Mike Pierce of the Student Borrower Protection Center, moderated by Berkeley Law professor Jonathan Glater.

On August 19, 2021, the Department of Education announced that it was automatically discharging student loan debt for some borrowers with a total and permanent disability (TPD). Borrower identification will occur through a matching program with the Social Security Administration. The discharge is expected to affect over 323,000 borrowers and discharge over $5.8 billion in student debt.

On August 6, 2021, the Department of Education announced the “final” extension of the student loan forbearance and 0% interest rate through January 31, 2022.

With only a few months of the forbearance to go, we’ve put together some FAQs to make the transition and the LRAP application process easier. If you can’t find an answer to your question there or by reaching out to your loan servicer, email us at lrap@law.berkeley.edu or make an appointment.

For more information about the forbearance, review our COVID-19 and Student Loans webpage.

LRAP Updates

Worried about meeting the 3.5 year LRAP deadline? You can now apply to pre-qualify for 120 months of LRAP funding without having to submit an LRAP application.

To pre-qualify, you need to be 1) in greater-than-half time and paid law-related, public interest work making under $100k; 2) be in repayment (not in school, in a grace period, or in a forbearance or deferment (the automatic COVID forbearance doesn’t count)); 3) be enrolled in an income-driven repayment plan; and 4) have a $0 monthly payment.

You must submit both an Employer Verification Form and documentation of your $0 payment to apply.

One of Berkeley Law’s defining characteristics is its public mission and commitment to supporting our students and graduates pursuing careers in public service. Our Loan Repayment Assistance Program is crucial in this regard. We are pleased to announce a programmatic change to Berkeley Law’s Loan Repayment Assistance Program to make it more generous for our graduates. Effective August 1, 2021, LRAP’s out-of-pocket contribution income threshold will increase from $70,000 to $80,000. In short, this change will allow more graduates to receive a greater amount of LRAP support, consistent with Berkeley Law’s commitment to public interest and public service graduates.

Starting August 1, LRAP will cover 100% of all eligible loan payments for LRAP participants with annualized full-time incomes of $80,000 or less. For participants making over $80,000, LRAP assistance will be prorated, with participants expected to make an out-of-pocket contribution equal to 35% of their marginal income above $80,000. As a result, more participants will be able to have 100% of their eligible loan payments covered, and more participants with incomes above $80,000 will be eligible for LRAP support with a smaller out-of-pocket contribution.

To calculate your LRAP eligibility, use our LRAP Calculator.