Coronavirus – COVID-19

         In these hard times due to COVID-19, you may be worried about student loan payments and interest rates. For more information, please go to the following link to obtain answers to your questions about the actions that the Federal Government has taken to help Student Loan Borrowers.

https://studentaid.gov/announcements-events/coronavirus

 

Financial well-being means creating a sense of security and feeling centered around having a financial balance in your own life. It is the feeling of having the financial freedom to plan for today, tomorrow and the future.

Many Mason students receive some form of financial aid, such as grants, scholarships, work-study employment, or loans. We understand students may not have access to significant sources of funding and that unexpected circumstance may arise while at Mason. SSAC staff meets with students facing a variety of financial difficulties including food insecurity and homelessness. SSAC staff members can provide information about various on and off-campus resources for students in need.

Financial Literacy

Student Borrower Information:

How much funding do I really need?

Are you able to pay anything out of pocket? Keep in mind that any loan funding you take will eventually have interest added to the principal amount.

What is the interest rate?

2019-2020 Academic year Federal Loans have an interest rate of 4.53% for undergraduate students and 6.08% for graduate students.

Is the interest rate fixed or variable?

Federal loan interest rates are fixed but private lenders may have variable rates.  A private loan could start at a 2% interest rate but over time this could go up as high as 10+%.

Other things to consider:

What are the terms of repayment?
Do I need to start paying immediately or is there a grace period?
Are there income based repayment plans?
Can I make payments on the loan while in school?
Are there any penalties for paying off early?
Can I afford to pay down the interest while I am taking classes?

For more information on federal loans visit studentaid.gov.  For information on private loans and various lenders visit www.elmselect.com

Student Loan Repayment

Loan Servicers: A loan servicer is a company that handles the billing and other services on your federal student loan. The loan servicer will work with you on repayment plans and loan consolidation and will assist you with other tasks related to your federal student loan. It is important to maintain contact with your loan servicer. If your circumstances change at any time during your repayment period, your loan servicer will be able to help. –www.studentaid.ed.gov

Common Loan Servicers that contract with the Department of Education:

CornerStone
Fed Loan Servicing (PHEAA)
Granite State-GSMR
Great Lakes Educational Loan Services, Inc.
HESC/Edfinancial
MOHELA
Navient
Nelnet
OSLA Servicing

For contact information for these loan servicers please visit: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/understand/servicers#my-servicer

If you have borrowed a Perkins Loan and need information on repayment, you can contact the Office of Student Accounts or ECSI loan servicer. https://borrower.ecsi.net/

When do I have to pay back my loans?

Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans have a 6 month grace period.  This means that your payments will begin 6 months after you graduate or separate from the university.

Federal Perkins Loans have a 9 month grace period. Loan payments begin 9 months after you graduate or separate from the university.  Perkins loans are paid back to the university (the university is your loan servicer and often works with a partner called ECSI).  *This program has been discontinued by the Department of Education.  The last awards were offered at the start of the 2017-2018 academic year.  

Default on Student Loans

Defaulting on student loans can have a serious and negative impact on your credit and ability for future borrowing. For a loan made under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program or the Federal Family Education Loan Program, you are considered to be in default if you do not make your scheduled student loan payments for at least 270 days (about nine months). For a loan made under the Federal Perkins Loan Program, the holder of the loan may declare the loan to be in default if you do not make any scheduled payment by the due date.

Consequences of default can include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • The entire unpaid balance of your loan and any interest you owe becomes due immediately.
  • You lose eligibility for additional federal student aid.
  • Your default will be reported to credit bureaus, damaging your credit rating.
  • Your tax refunds or federal benefits can be withheld and applied towards the balance and/or your wages can be garnished.
  • Your loan holder can take you to court.

For more information on the impacts of default please visit: https://studentaid.ed.gov

There are three main options for getting your loan(s) out of default.

  1. Pay your loan balance in full, including any interest or fees.
  2. Loan Rehabilitation: This is an agreement between you and your loan servicer where you will be required to make 9 voluntary, reasonable and affordable payments for 10 consecutive months. Under loan rehabilitation your loan servicer will determine a reasonable monthly payment amount based on your discretionary income and family size.
  3. Loan Consolidation: You can apply to consolidate your defaulted federal student loans (including Perkins loans) into a new Direct Consolidation Loan through the Department of Education.  If you choose to consolidate you must either agree to repay the new Direct Consolidation loan under and income-driven repayment plan, or make three consecutive, voluntary, on-time, full monthly payments on the defaulted loan before you consolidate it.

For more information on any of these options, you can contact your loan servicer, visit https://studentaid.ed.gov

Mason's Office of Student Financial Aid

Mason’s Office of Student Financial Aid has a team of dedicated professionals available to help you and your family. The Financial Aid staff will work with you annually as you re-apply for financial assistance each year you attend Mason.

Patriot Pantry

The Patriot Pantry provides access to non-perishable food items, toiletries, and basic school supplies to George Mason University students who are unable to afford them. We raise awareness about food insecurity and homelessness within the Mason student population. We strive to educate and unite our community.

Students in need can email pantry@gmu.edu to schedule a meeting.

Stay Mason

The Stay Mason Student Support Fund is no longer accepting applications for the 2019-2020 academic year. Students, who are currently enrolled in a degree-seeking program at the University and who are in need of emergency funding due to the effects of the COVID-19 health crisis, are encouraged to fill out the Coronavirus/COVID-19 Student Emergency Assistance Fund application.

COVID-19 Assistance

Emergency funding is available to students who meet the eligibility criteria outlined below and is made possible by the generous support of George Mason University and donors committed to helping students succeed. Funding from the CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund will also be allocated to eligible students impacted by COVID-19 through this process.

Applications for emergency funding during summer 2020 will be accepted from May 26 through August 7.

Please note – Mason’s emergency funding application is just that – a process for emergency funding. This funding is a last resort for students who need it most and should NOT be considered part of a student’s financial planning for the future.  If a student knows they need continued financial assistance, they are encouraged to work with the Office of Student Financial Aid to discuss all options available to them. Financial Aid can be reached at finaid@gmu.edu.

Coronavirus/COVID-19 Student Emergency Assistance Funding Criteria and Application