Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma have come and gone, but the destruction left in their wake will take time to repair. Homes, livelihoods, and more have been lost. Many people are wondering where to turn.
Those impacted by the hurricanes have some relief coming their way in the form of financial support from the Department of Education, the IRS, and other organizations. Although it can’t replace everything that’s been lost, it might help victims get back on their feet.
Student loan hurricane relief
If you have student loans and are concerned about making payments because of the hurricanes, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and Department of Education both recommend contacting your servicer.
It’s possible that you qualify for administrative forbearance on federal student loans for up to 90 days. Although interest still accrues, it isn’t added to your loan balance.
If you’re on an income-driven repayment plan, you have an extra 15 days to provide necessary documentation to renew your status.
Also, if you make a Public Service Loan Forgiveness payment more than 15 days after the due date but within 20 days of the due date, it will count as an on-time payment for the program. However, the payment needs to be made in the 30-day period following the date of the declaration of a major disaster.
It might be more difficult to obtain help for private loans. However, you should contact your servicer. Many private lenders understand you might need relief, and they might have special deferment or forbearance programs in place for hurricane victims.
Department of Education directions on financial aid
The Department of Education issued a letter to schools offering general guidance for disaster relief. It directed schools to use their “professional judgment” in adjusting applications and awards to reflect the special circumstances of students on a case-by-case basis.
Additionally, some document verification requirements are being loosened for those affected by the hurricanes. Some dependents might not need a parent’s signature, and some records requirements might be waived if the records were lost or destroyed during the hurricanes.
Hurricane relief from the IRS
Anyone residing in an area designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as qualifying for individual assistance might see tax relief.
For taxpayers who have valid extensions that run out September 15 (business) or October 16 (individual), the IRS is offering an extension to January 31, 2018.
Deadlines for making quarterly tax payments also have been extended for people in areas affected by Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Harvey.
The IRS also is waiving late-deposit penalties for payroll and excise tax deposits for affected businesses. The deposits that normally would be made in the first 15 days following the disaster won’t be subject to penalty.
If your address is within the disaster area, the IRS provides automatic relief. You don’t need to apply for anything, and you can focus on rebuilding your life.
However, if you do end up receiving a penalty notice, the IRS says you should reach out. Additionally, the IRS offers relief to people affected by the hurricanes but living outside the disaster areas. Call 866-562-5227 to learn about your options.
Help with loan payments from major banks
Some major banks are offering hurricane relief for customers with loans. Payment relief might be offered for mortgages, auto loans, and small-business loans, depending on your lender. Contact your lender to see what options are available to you.
Here are some banks that have announced hurricane relief efforts for Hurricane Harvey:
- JPMorgan Chase & Co.
- Wells Fargo
- Bank of America
- Frost Bank
- BBVA Compass
And here are some banks that have announced hurricane relief efforts for Hurricane Irma:
- Bank of America
- JPMorgan Chase & Co.
- Wells Fargo
- Regions Bank
Some of the relief offered includes waiving or refunding late payments. You also might be able to delay payments for up to 90 days without penalty. However, you need to make sure you understand the terms offered by the banking institution. In many cases, interest will accrue.
Disaster food stamps
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the form of assistance we often refer to as “food stamps.” In areas of Texas affected by Hurricane Harvey, a disaster program called D-SNAP is in place. If you qualify, you can get an extra food stamp allotment to help you manage your nutritional needs.
Florida also has approval for D-SNAP in counties affected by Hurricane Irma. The emergency allotment can help you get the nutrition you need now that supplies are getting into impacted areas.
Watch out for hurricane relief scams
Sadly, there are people who prey on victims of natural disasters. Even as you prepare to rebuild, you’ll need to be on your guard.
The Miami Herald reported that there are emails, texts, and phone calls claiming FEMA is giving away free food stamps. Officials warn residents not to provide any personal information to those making claims of assistance. You also should be on your guard against scammers claiming to provide special grants from the IRS or other agencies.
Instead, you can get information about real hurricane relief from the following sources:
- Food Assistance for Disaster Relief
- Federal Student Aid
- CFPB’s financial toolkit for victims of Irma and Harvey
- Student Loan Hero’s guide to applying for assistance after Harvey
If you weren’t affected by the hurricanes but want to contribute to relief efforts, consider donating to the American Red Cross or United Way or donating nonperishables and cleaning supplies to food banks in affected areas.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2018!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
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1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.97% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.47% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.23% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of Month/Day/Year, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 08/21/18. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at email@example.com, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on ourstudent loan refinance product.
© 2018 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
Savings example: average savings calculated based on single loans refinanced from 9/2013 to 12/2017 where borrowers’ previous rates were disclosed. Assumes same loan terms for previous and refinanced loans, and payments made to maturity with no prepayments. Actual savings for individual loans vary based on loan balance, interest rates, and other factors.
Application detail: 5 minutes indicates typical time it takes to complete application with applicant information readily available. It does not include time taken to provide underwriting decision or funding of the loan.
Instant rates mean a delivery of personalized rates for those individuals who provide sufficient information to return a rate. For instant rates a soft credit pull will be conducted, which will not affect your credit score. To proceed with an application, a hard credit pull will be required, which may affect your credit score.
Total savings calculated by aggregating individual average savings across total borrower population from 9/2013 to 12/2017. Individual average savings calculation based on single loans refinanced from 9/2013 to 12/2017 where borrowers’ previous rates were provided. Assumes same loan terms for previous and refinanced loans, and payments made to maturity with no prepayments. Actual savings for individual loans vary based on loan balance, interest rates, and other factors.
3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
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|2.47% – 6.23%1||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Earnest|
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|2.95% – 6.37%2||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Laurel Road|
|2.48% – 6.25%5||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit CommonBond|
|2.72% – 8.32%6||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Citizens|