COVID-19 Updates for Students, Parents, Borrowers, and Lenders
The New York State Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC) is working to protect New York’s students and borrowers during the COVID-19 public health emergency. HESC has determined that impacted students receiving financial aid will not suffer negative consequences regarding their current or future awards and is offering borrowers student loan debt relief through multiple programs.
HESC is providing answers to frequently asked questions for students, parents, borrowers, and lenders/servicers. As we adapt our policies and operations to meet the challenges of COVID-19, we will continue to provide you with updated information.
FAQ updated as of April 26, 2022.
- Additional Resources
The frequently asked questions and answers below, updated regularly, provide students and parents with information on student financial aid during the public health emergency for COVID-19.
- Who are the students considered impacted by COVID-19?
- If you would have met all eligibility requirements for your NYS financial aid award but you were unable to complete courses for the term or earn fewer credits than required because one of the reasons below, you may be considered impacted:
- You became sick with the virus or were the primary caretaker of someone who was,
- Your campus closed and you did not have the means to continue your coursework in your home through the use of distance learning,
- You were unable to complete your credit-bearing experiential learning internship and no alternative coursework could be offered by your college, or
- You could not earn term credits because you were enrolled in a course that was cancelled because it could not transition to online instruction.
- I was a full-time student, but needed to drop classes because of COVID-19, will I still get my award payment?
- If you were deemed by your college to be impacted by COVID-19 and were eligible for a NYS grant or scholarship for the term and charged tuition, but had to drop a class, you will still receive your payment.
Tuition Assistance Program (TAP)
- I submitted my TAP application, but after printing it I noticed I put the wrong Social Security Number for my mother/father/guardian. Can I fix this?
- If I drop a class because online learning is not viable, will I still receive my TAP?
- Yes. If your classes were converted to an online format in response to COVID-19 and you were unable to complete a class due to this alternative method of learning, you will still receive your TAP payment, even if this caused you to drop below full time.
- Do I need documentation to verify that I could not finish my classes due to COVID-19?
- Please contact your school regarding the documentation that may be needed and to receive further instructions.
NYS Part-time Scholarship Award (PTS)
- I am a recipient of a Part-time Scholarship and was impacted by COVID-19 and had to drop a class. Will I receive my award for the term?
- If you were initially eligible for the Part-time Scholarship, dropped a class and your college has deemed you impacted by COVID-19, you will receive your award for this term.
Get on Your Feet Loan Forgiveness Program (GOYF)
- Is HESC continuing to make Get on Your Feet (GOYF) payments during the COVID-19 emergency?
- As HESC responds to the impact of COVID-19, our ability to support some student loan borrowers is limited. As a result, all GOYF payments are temporarily suspended. We understand that borrowers are concerned about the impact of this on their loans. This suspension will not impact the total number of payments made on your behalf. HESC will still make a total of 24 payments toward your loans. HESC will notify you once payments, on your behalf, to your servicer, resume.
To assist federal student loan borrowers at this time, you may be eligible for student loan relief announced by the U.S. Department of Education (DOE). The DOE directive requires that all Direct Loan servicers charge 0 percent interest on student loans and requires servicers to grant administrative forbearance, for a period of 60 days, beginning on March 13, 2020. The administrative forbearance allows borrowers to temporarily stop making federal loan payments, without becoming delinquent. To request an administrative forbearance, you will need to contact your loan servicer directly. Once your servicers approves your request, you will not have any payments due for as long as the administrative forbearance is in effect. Click here for more information on this emergency relief for federal loan borrowers.
Other Loan Forgiveness Programs
- Are the dates to submit documentation for recent program applications be extended?
- Documentation is required no later than 15 days after the program application closes.
- Will I receive my loan forgiveness payment from HESC?
- As HESC responds to the impact of COVID-19 and works to resume normal operations, the processing of loan forgiveness payments will be delayed.
For the Regents Physicians Loan Forgiveness Program:
We are still waiting on guidance from Division of Budget regarding the Regents Physicians Loan Forgiveness Program. I am attaching a link to the State Education Department’s website, which will be updated when there is further guidance. Please continue to check their website for updates. http://www.nysed.gov/postsecondary-services/regents-physician-loan-forgiveness-program-lf
- I am a recipient of a Scholarship for Academic Excellence, and impacted by COVID-19. Will I receive my award for the term?
- If you are a Scholarship for Academic Excellence award recipient and your college deemed you to be impacted by COVID-19, you will receive your award for this term.
- I receive a Memorial Scholarship and my college is reducing my room and board charge. Will my scholarship change?
- If you are attending a SUNY or CUNY college, and were deemed by your college to be impacted by COVID-19, your award may need to be adjusted to meet the new cost of attendance. Your college will make that determination and adjust as necessary.
- Are Veterans Tuition Awards still paid if the student was impacted by COVID-19?
- If you receive a Veterans Tuition Award, and your college deemed you to be impacted by COVID-19, you will receive their award for this term.
- I need to submit my DD214 to complete my Veterans Tuition Award. Should I submit to HESC?
- Documentation may be submitted to HESC. However, as HESC responds to the impact of COVID-19, processing may be delayed while we work to resume normal operations.
High School Students
- I was planning to visit college campuses this spring before making my selection for the fall, but now can’t due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. Can I visit a college without physically going there?
- Many colleges have virtual tours which you can find on their websites or through this virtual tour spreadsheet shared by our SUNY partners.
HESC is offering its NYS borrowers student loan debt relief. The frequently asked question and answers below, updated regularly, provide borrowers with information on the student loan debt relief that will be granted to you during the public health emergency for COVID-19.
Can’t find the answer you’re looking for? Borrowers can schedule an appointment, to speak with one of our agents.
- I recently received a letter from ECMC regarding my bankruptcy claim, but my loans still show that they’re with HESC. Who is my correct loan holder/loan servicer?
- If ECMC recently sent you correspondence, they are your current loan holder and now servicing your loans. Please contact ECMC at 1-888-363-4562 for further guidance.
- I filed for bankruptcy and am due a refund from HESC. When can I expect my refund?
- HESC is now actively processing bankruptcy claims and following all refund policies under Bankruptcy Law. If you have not received a refund and believe you are owed a refund, please make an appointment to speak with one of our agents.
- I recently filed for Total and Permanent Disability, but HESC has not been notified about my application. Will HESC suspend collections activities on my defaulted loans?
- HESC suspended all adverse collection activities regarding defaulted loans through August 31, 2022. Beginning September 1, 2022, regular collection activities will resume.
- I recently enlisted in the military. When will HESC give me my service member relief benefits?
- If your loans are currently with HESC, HESC will identify all borrowers through our monthly Servicemembers database match. Once identified, HESC will apply current and retro-active benefits immediately.
- What is “Fresh Start” and how will it impact my defaulted or delinquent student loan?
- In an April 6, 2022 press release, the U.S. Department of Education (Department) announced an extension of the pause on student loan repayment, interest, and collections through August 31, 2022.
During the extension, the Department will continue to assess the financial impact of the pandemic on student loan borrowers and to prepare for the smooth transition of borrowers back into repayment. According to the press release, “(t)his includes allowing all borrowers with paused loans to receive a ‘fresh start’ on repayment by eliminating the impact of delinquency and default and allowing them to reenter repayment in good standing.
While additional information has not yet be made available, it is currently understood that individuals with defaulted loans guaranteed by HESC will have their default removed prior to the current September 1, 2022 repayment restart.
Please visit us regularly for additional updates and clarification.
- HESC took my tax refund and I need that money since I am not working due to coronavirus. Can you help me?
- Pursuant to the expanded CARES Act relief, HESC has suspended all tax offsets, through August 31, 2022, and will automatically return any tax refunds seized since March 13, 2020. Please be aware that the refunding of tax offsets that have been applied to your account will increase the outstanding balance of your defaulted loan.
If you have questions regarding your refund, please schedule an appointment to speak with a HESC loan representative at http://reservation.hesc.ny.gov/loans.
- Are my defaulted loans receiving the same suspension period that was included in the federal CARES Act?
- Yes. On March 30, 2021, the U.S. Department of Education expanded the student loan borrower relief offered under the CARES Act to defaulted student loan borrowers in the FFEL Program. As a result, HESC has suspended all adverse collection activities and interest accruals through August 31, 2022.
- What are the benefits offered to me as a Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) borrower under the student loan debt relief?
- As a Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) borrower with loans that defaulted on or after March 13, 2020, you will continue to be provided the following benefits through August 31, 2022.
- ZERO percent accrued interest rate.
- Suspension of all federal and state tax offsets.
- Suspension of all administrative wage garnishments.
- The student loan debt relief is scheduled to end on August 31, 2022, do I need to take any action prior to my payments resuming on September 1, 2022?
- Prior to August 31, 2022, you will want to ensure your contact information is up-to-date and start planning for repayment. To update your contact information and discuss repayment options, including a Reasonable and Affordable (income driven) repayment plan for lower monthly payments and an Auto-Debit option so that you never miss a payment, schedule an appointment to speak with HESC at http://reservation.hesc.ny.gov/loans.
- I defaulted on my loan on or after March 13, 2020. I heard my loan will be assigned back to the U.S. Department of Education. Is that true?
- Yes. If you defaulted one or more FFEL Program loans after March 13, 2020, your loan will be assigned to the U.S. Department of Education, where your default status will be removed. Nelnet, the federal loan servicer working on behalf of the USDOE will contact you regarding your loan transfer.
- How will I know when my loan is transferred to the US Department of Education?
- Nelnet, the federal loan servicer working on behalf of US Department of Education will be contacting you regarding the repayment of your loan, however you may check the status of the transfer of your loan at https://nsldsfap.ed.gov/nslds_SA.
- I defaulted on my loan on or after March 13, 2020 and it is being assigned back to the U.S. Department of Education, am I entitled to benefits under the CARES Act?
- Yes. As a FFEL Program borrower whose loan defaulted on or after March 13, 2020, your loan will be assigned to the U.S. Department of Education and returned to good standing, and you will be entitled to all other student loan borrower relief offered under the CARES Act.
- I defaulted on my loan on or after March 13, 2020, but I paid it in full. Will the transfer of FFEL loans back to the U.S. Department of Education impact me?
- If your loan was consolidated or paid in full after March 13, 2020, no action will be taken at this time to refund your payments or assign your account to the U.S. Department of Education. Please check back regularly for any updates.
- I haven't filed my taxes yet, but is HESC going to offset my taxes during the coronavirus emergency?
- The offset of all federal and state tax refunds has been suspended through August 31, 2022.
- How is this going to affect my current rehabilitation arrangements?
- HESC will continue with the Rehabilitation Program for those borrowers who have completed the Rehab agreement and still wish to voluntarily rehabilitate their loans and be removed from default. However, there is no penalty for borrower’s who have suspended qualifying payments through August 31, 2022. Those borrowers can resume payments voluntarily, ultimately allowing for nine qualifying payments to be made within a longer time period.
- Are my social security/disability offsets going to stop?
- Yes. All social security and disability offsets have been suspended through August 31, 2022.
- Is there an option for consolidating my loans into one payment before repayment begins?
- The Federal Direct Loan Consolidation Program allows you to consolidate your loan into a single monthly payment. In addition, through the program you may be eligible these benefits:
- 2.8% consolidation fees through August 31, 2022; 18.5% thereafter.
- To enroll in federal loan forgiveness programs not available under the FFEL Program.
- A 0.25% interest rate deduction on your loans with automatic debit payments.
- I applied for consolidation and I received notification that it has been approved. My servicer sent HESC the funds. When will I receive my loan release?
- Please make an appointment to speak with one of our agents.
- Can HESC provide my school and/or me with a letter which indicates I'm no longer in default?
- Yes. To request a letter confirming that you are no longer in default, [lease schedule an appointment to speak with a HESC representative at http://reservation.hesc.ny.gov/loans.
- You were garnishing my wages and now I am not working due to the coronavirus. Can I get a refund of previous garnishments?
- Pursuant to the expanded CARES Act relief, HESC has suspended all administrative wage garnishments, through August 31, 2022, and will automatically return any garnishments received since March 13, 2020. Please be aware that the refunding of garnishments that have been applied to your account will increase the outstanding balance of your defaulted loan.
If you have questions regarding your garnished wages, please schedule an appointment to speak with a HESC loan representative at http://reservation.hesc.ny.gov/loans.
- You are garnishing my wages and now because of the coronavirus, my spouse is not working. Can you stop the garnishment?
- HESC has suspended all administrative wage garnishments, through August 31, 2022 and will automatically return any wages garnished since March 13, 2020. If your garnishment has not stopped, please make an appointment to speak with a HESC loan representative at http://reservation.hesc.ny.gov/loans.
- Will you be accepting voluntary credit card payments on my defaulted student loan?
- Yes, HESC is accepting voluntary credit card payments through August 31, 2022. All voluntary payments received during this time will be applied directly to principal, once all interest accrued prior to March 13, 2020, and fees, if applicable, are paid.
You can make voluntary payments using one of the three options below:
- On the HESC website Master Card or Visa credit card/debt payment by following these instructions.
- Via check or money order mailed to: NYS HESC, POB 645189 Cincinnati, Ohio 45264-5189. Please include your account number or the last four digits of your SSN in the memo section of the check or money order.
- By making an appointment to speak with one of our agents.
- I made a voluntary payment on my loans and would like a refund. Is that an option?
- If you made voluntary payments on your defaulted FFEL Program loans since March 13, 2020, you may request a refund of those payments. Please be aware that all refunds of payments applied to your balance since March 13, 2020 will increase the outstanding balance of your defaulted loan. To request a refund, please make an appointment to speak with a HESC loan representative at http://reservation.hesc.ny.gov/loans.
- I enrolled in a voluntary repayment arrangement with HESC, but I would like to suspend it?
- If you entered into a voluntary repayment arrangement with HESC you may elect to suspend payments on the arrangement through August 31, 2022. To suspend your payments, please make an appointment to speak with a HESC loan representative at http://reservation.hesc.ny.gov/loans.
- I received a refund of my garnishment. Can I re-apply that money to my outstanding balance?
- You may elect to apply your refund voluntarily to reduce your outstanding balance. With interest rates set to 0 percent through August 31, 2022, any payment made will be applied directly to principal once all interest accrued prior to March 13, 2020, and fees, if applicable, are paid.
- Will my defaulted FFEL Program loan accrue interest?
- FFEL Defaulted loans will not accrue interest from March 13, 2020, through the August 31, 2022.
- I need to speak with someone at HESC?
- If would like to speak with a loan representative you can schedule an appointment at http://reservation.hesc.ny.gov/loans.
Borrowers who have filed for bankruptcy on their default student loans:
Borrowers who have filed Total and Permanent Disability Applications:
Borrowers who are entitled to Service Members Relief Act benefits:
Borrowers who are in Default Collections:
The frequently asked questions and answers below, updated regularly, provide lenders and service partners with information during the public health emergency for COVID-19.
- How can Default Aversion Assistance Requests (DAAR) and Claims be filed with HESC?
- Will HESC accept electronic images of collateral and any other required supporting documents?
- Will HESC offer any considerations regarding DAAR/Claim/Supplemental filing/refiling deadlines?
- To the extent possible, and upon pending approvals from the U.S. Department of Education, HESC will seek to consider the impact of the coronavirus public health emergency regarding DAAR/Claim/Supplemental filing/refiling deadlines. Updated guidance will be provided as it becomes available.
- Should lenders/servicers cease collection activity on HESC-guaranteed loans that are in repayment?
- Lenders/servicers should refer to ED’s Dear Colleague Letter GEN-17-08 to determine what actions are available to assist borrowers during this public health emergency.
A wide range of New York State and Federal Resources are available for students, borrowers and lenders/servicers impacted by coronavirus. We encourage you to visit these websites.
New York State Resources
- Updates from Governor Kathy Hochul
- What You Need to Know from the New York State Department of Health
- Frequently Asked Questions COVID-19 Vaccines
- CDC COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions
- Guidance for Managing Stress and Anxiety During the COVID-19 Outbreak
- NYS Department of Financal Services Step Up For Students
- usa.gov/coronavirus — Learn how the federal government is responding to the outbreak.
- Federal student loan servicers — Servicer contact information for borrowers who want to ask questions, request a deferment or forbearance, etc.
- U.S. Department of Education COVID-19 information for schools and school personnel
- Information for Financial Aid Professionals website