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Your Earnest Loan and Coronavirus (COVID-19) - What You Need To Know

First and foremost, we’re here to help. We want you to know we’re making every effort to stay on top of current and recent developments about Coronavirus (COVID-19). Any updates we have will continue to be included in this article. Please see below for the latest Coronavirus updates related to your Earnest loan.

If you're experiencing financial hardship or anticipate that you'll have a financial hardship in making my upcoming loan payments we have a few different options. Please note that these options may require a review of your (and any cosigner’s) financial situation and ability to pay.

Short Term Interest Only Program 

This program will allow you to make a lower (interest only) payment on your loan for up to 90 days. Your monthly payment will be lowered to an interest-only amount for up to 3 months. This will prevent the post-program monthly payment from significantly rising by extending the terms of their loan by the same number of months (3). Making a payment, even a reduced one, is always the best thing long-term as interest continues to accrue. Forbearance will ease the burden of required payments, but making some payments still saves money in the long run. Beginning October 1, 2021, clients may be able to utilize this program for a maximum amount of 18 months.

Alternative programs may also be available. You can learn about them here. If you need continued support, please reach out to our parent company, Navient, to curate personalized repayment options. Our dedicated group is available Monday through Friday, 5 AM to 4 PM PST (8 AM to 7 PM EST) at 855-203-4596.

Discontinued - Short-term coronavirus forbearance (ended January 31, 2022)

Until January 31, 2022, Earnest offered a short-term coronavirus forbearance to qualified clients who requested it. This program brought eligible loans current and postponed payments for at least one full month. 

The short-term forbearance did not count against one’s hardship forbearance benefit. During this time, clients were not responsible for making payments, but interest did continue to accrue. At the end of the short-term forbearance, unpaid interest was not capitalized (added to your outstanding principal balance). Please note if the accrued interest was not paid and a different type of forbearance or deferment was used in the future, the interest could be capitalized at that future time.

Discontinued - Coronavirus national emergency forbearance (ended June 30, 2020)

In response to the national emergency declared by the President in March 2020, Earnest offered up to three months of disaster forbearance to qualified clients who made their requests no later than June 30, 2020. This program brought eligible loans current and postponed payments for up to three months. During this time, interest accrued but was not capitalized (added to the unpaid principal) at the end of the forbearance period. Please note if the accrued interest was not paid and a different type of forbearance or deferment was used in the future, the interest could be capitalized at that future time. 

More Frequently Asked Questions 

The Federal Reserve recently dropped interest rates in response to Coronavirus, how does this impact my loan with Earnest? 

We completely understand your desire to take advantage of lower rates. Unfortunately, the Fed’s interest rate isn’t the only factor in how our interest rates are set. We are committed to offering you the most competitive rates we can find and to offering you the best rate possible based on the market conditions. We understans this is a time of uncertainty and we’re doing our absolute best to provide as much information and support as we can as quickly as possible.

In March 2020, the White House announced plans to freeze interest payments on student loans, what is Earnest doing?

This announcement was in regards to federally-owned student loans. Earnest loans are not subject to this proposed policy change. While we’re not part of this policy change, we’ve created options for those experiencing financial hardship.

Why isn’t a private education loan eligible for the temporary interest waiver announced by the White House in March 2020?

The interest waiver announced by the White House is for federally-held student loans only. Private education loans are not federally owned or guaranteed. Many of our clients have federally-owned loans in addition to private student loans, so other options may be available for those loans.

What if I’m considering student loan refinancing during the current national emergency or have a pending application?

Due to recent events, including an executive order by the President to waive federal student loan interest for a limited time during the COVID-19 crisis, we want Earnest clients to explore all their options before applying to refinance their federal student loans. 

Refinancing a federal student loan with a private lender means you will no longer have access to the benefits of your federal loans, including the temporary 0% interest rate on federally held loans, and suspension of payments, which may last for a number of months.

Please carefully review your current and potential benefits with a federal loan servicer before refinancing. Call us at 1-888-601-2801 if you have a pending refinancing and want to review your options or cancel your pending loan, as described below:

If you recently refinanced your student loans with us, you have a right to cancel, without penalty, by midnight of the third business day after the day you received your Final Disclosures. Please see your Final Disclosures for the specific date and instructions on how to cancel. Your Final Disclosures were emailed to you with the subject line “Your Earnest Loan Agreement” on the day you finalized your loan. If you’re unable to locate your Final Disclosures, please reach out to our Client Happiness Team. 

How long will you offer these coronavirus forbearance programs?

This program ended on January 31, 2022. If you need continued support, please reach out to our parent company, Navient, to curate personalized repayment options. Our dedicated group is available Monday through Friday, 5 AM to 4 PM PST (8 AM to 7 PM EST) at 855-203-4596.

What if I’m still experiencing difficulty at the end of my forbearance?

We strongly encourage you to explore your long-term options as soon as possible. There are several existing programs for clients who are experiencing difficulty but can pay a reduced payment amount.

You may be eligible for a standard hardship forbearance if your difficulty is unrelated to coronavirus or its impact on the economy, but note that all normal terms and conditions (including capitalization of interest) would apply. Please contact us here if you are nearing the end of your coronavirus forbearance and anticipate difficulty making payments.

With this forbearance, were my loans reported negatively to the credit bureaus?

No. Earnest reported loans enrolled in the coronavirus disaster forbearance program as “current” with a payment history of “deferred” and a special comment of “affected by a natural or declared disaster." Any delinquency on your loan has been addressed with this forbearance; however, it will not remove any prior delinquency information reported to the consumer reporting agencies. If you have questions about the impact of this forbearance on your FICO score, please visit www.myfico.com.

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