Pritzker announces new loan relief options for private student loan holders

IDPH reports 119 additional COVID-19 deaths and 1,551 new confirmed cases

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Gov. JB Pritzker announced Tuesday that the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation will provide loan relief options to residents who may be struggling with their private student loan payments.

Although the CARES Act has provided relief for Illinoisans with federal student loans by suspending monthly payments and interest accruement until Sept. 30, Pritzker said his administration feels similar relief options should be available to borrowers with private loans.

"That action left out the millions of people nationwide who are repaying private and nonfederal student loans," he said. "These are people just as affected by the financial turmoil of this pandemic as their counterparts who are covered by the CARES Act."

The IDFPR has been working with 20 student loan servicers, including Navient, Nelnet and Edfinancial Services, to secure private loan relief options, Pritzker said.

These agencies have agreed to begin allowing borrowers to request a 90-day forbearance on private student loan payments.

They also have agreed to "waived late fees, no negative credit reporting, the pause of debt collection lawsuits for 90 days and enrollment in other borrower assistance programs," Pritzker said.

"As of today, nearly 140,000 more student loan borrowers in Illinois will now get relief," he said.

This new relief is part of a "multistate agreement" negotiated by the IDFPR to include borrowers in Illinois, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Vermont, Virginia and Washington, he added.

Pritzker described efforts to mitigate the economic effects of the pandemic as the "second front" of the state's COVID-19 response plan.

"I've directed my staff and agency directors to do everything in our power to help our residents who are hurting," he said.

The state also will be receiving an additional $112 million in federal food assistance funds through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to support Illinois families during the pandemic, Pritzker announced Tuesday.

"No child should ever have to worry about where their next meal is coming from," Pritzker said.

For families already enrolled in SNAP, their portion of the newly available funding will be automatically added to the family's "link cards," he said.

Families with children who qualify for the state's free and reduced lunch program will be allowed to submit a simplified SNAP application to ensure they are able to access the new aid money, he added.

On Tuesday, 119 new COVID-19-related fatalities were reported, bringing the statewide total to 1,468 deaths, Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health Dr. Ngozi Ezike said.

Ezike also reported 1,551 new cases of the coronavirus, bringing the state's total case count to 33,059 confirmed cases.

"As of last night, 4,776 individuals in Illinois were hospitalized with COVID-19," Ezike said. "Of those, 1,226 patients were in the ICU, and 781 patients were on ventilators."

That leaves 30% of the state's ICU beds and 60% of the state's ventilators available for future patients, she said.

"As we continue to collect and analyze the data, we are seeing that people are recovering," Ezike said. "This is encouraging news, and I hope it will strengthen our resolve to continue the very tough sacrifices that we continue to make."

Earlier in the afternoon, Pritzker said new models indicate that Illinois will reach its peak of coronavirus cases in mid-May. That announcement came in an interview that he did with the Washington Post that was broadcast live on its Facebook page.

When asked in his Tuesday COVID-19 news conference why he does not simply extend the stay-at-home order now, Pritzker said, "We are working hard to try to make changes to the stay-at-home order."

The new deaths the IDPH announced include:

• Boone County: 1 male 20s, 1 female 60s, 1 female 70s

• Carroll County: 1 female 80s

• Cook County: 1 female 30s, 1 female 40s, 2 males 40s, 2 females 50s, 9 males 50s, 4 females 60s, 10 males 60s, 1 unknown 60s, 9 females 70s, 14 males 70s, 5 females 80s, 17 males 80s, 8 females 90s, 5 males 90s

• DuPage County: 1 female 40s, 1 male 60s, 1 female 70s, 1 male 70s, 1 female 80s, 3 males 90s

• Jackson County: 1 male 80s

• Kankakee County: 1 female 90s

• Lake County: 1 female 60s, 1 male 70s, 1 male 80s, 1 female 90s, 1 male 90s

• Madison County: 1male 70s, 1 male 80s

• McHenry County: 1 male 70s, 2 females 90s, 1 male 90s

• Rock Island County: 1 female 70s

• Will County: 1 female 50s, 1 male 80s, 1 female 90s

• Winnebago County: 1 male 60s

• Woodford County: 1 female 70s