Federal Workers Count Down to a Student Loan Payment Without A Payday
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) Furloughed federal workers with student loans are watching the clock and the calendar.
Among the next milestones are the first payday federal employees would miss due to the government shutdown. That date may depend on the agency they work for, but since most federal employees get paid on the 1st and the 15th of the month, the Ides of October is a critical time.
While a bill that would retroactively repay furloughed workers once they returned to work passed the House 407 to 0 and is supported by President Barack Obama, the Catch 22-ish qualifier is that the government has to be back in business first, and there is no sign of that happening.
JP Morgan Chase , who recently announced that it would make no new student loans, is apparently watching the clock also. A Chase spokesperson who asked for anonymity referred to dispensations that the bank gave to customers that were wracked by Hurricane Sandy and recent floods in Colorado. But a break for furloughed federal workers with student loans they might not be able to payments on was not currently available.
"It's the middle of the month that we're worried about if people start to miss their checks," the Chase spokesperson said. "We don't have a policy spelled out for that but we tell our customers to call if they have concerns about their situations.
The Chronicle of Higher Education reported last month that a shutdown would not disrupt the awarding of student aid or the servicing of student loans, at least in the short term, adding that commercial student-loan servicers and other contractors could continue to work for "some short period of time" but would have to wait to be paid. The Chronicle said no new contracts would be awarded under during a shutdown.
Among the unknowns is the pace at which the skeleton crew left at ED would be able to conduct the department's business.
"Routine payments to grant student loans and research aid would not proceed at the same pace, if at all, if the government shutdown lasts longer than a few weeks," Harvard University political scientist Theda Skocpol told The Crimson , Harvard's student newspaper.
Gregory Junemann, president of the International Federation of Professional & Technical Engineers also said that federal workers still on the job had no guarantees on when they'd be paid. Junemann told the Washington Post last week that word from the government is that staffers would be paid "eventually." That vague timetable might come too late to prevent a missed student loan payment.
Another unknownone that could be a benefit to many in the long run--is whether the shutdown and risk of missing a payment will lead more borrowers, who likely have some time on their hands, to discover the loan forgiveness options available to them.