ANNOUNCEMENT REGARDING COVID-19


We are in difficult times. We want to be sure you have all of the information and tools you need to order to make the right financial decisions for you in these trying times and to take advantage of all relief measures available to you if you find yourself struggling to make payments. Please continue to read below.


Considering a Brazos Refinance Loan?

Brazos Refinance Loans

In response to COVID-19, the federal government has put in place temporary relief measures for borrowers who have federally owned student loans. Further, disaster forbearances are being allowed for existing FFELP and private loans, held by private lenders, such as Brazos.

What are the temporary relief measures?

If you have federally-owned student loans, the following temporary relief measures apply will be effective for 6 months, from March 13, 2020 through September 30, 2020, and applied automatically by your federal loan servicer:

  • Payments will be suspended (meaning no payments are due)
  • Interest will not accrue

During the suspension period, your federally owned loans will be noted as paid as agreed with the credit reporting agencies. At the end of the 6 month period, your account will resume as it was on March 13, 2020. The statute requires your federal loan servicer to provide you notices relating to these measures.

For additional information, see Coronavirus and Forbearance Info for Students, Borrowers, and Parents at the Federal Student Aid website.

Why are you telling me this, doesn’t it apply to all loans?

The temporary relief measures only apply to federally owned student loans, meaning those owned by the federal government. The temporary relief measures do not apply to loans owned by private lenders such as Brazos. If you are unsure which of your loans, if any, are owned by the federal government, contact your existing student loan servicer(s).

Why does this matter if I want to refinance all of my existing student loans and take advantage of your low advertised rates?

If you have federally owned-loans and refinance them in to a Brazos Refinance Loan, you will not be able to take advantage of the temporary relief measures described above. As such, you should very carefully consider your personal financial situation amid the COVID-19 crisis and the benefits and savings the temporary relief measures give you in the short term against the longer term benefits and savings you have available to you as a result of the low rates offered on the Brazos Refinance Loan.

If I have student loans that aren’t federally owned, can I go ahead and refinance those in to a Brazos Refinance Loan to take advantage of the low rates?

If you have only privately owned loans, not owned by the federal government, the financial considerations that you must take into account in deciding whether or not to refinance with a Brazos Refinance Loan have not changed. If you have a mix of federally owned loans and privately owned loans, and want to take advantage of the temporary measures available to you on the federally owned loans, you can proceed with the Brazos Refinance Loan and only include our privately owned loans.

If I have federally owned loans, can’t I just consolidate with a federal consolidation loan and take advantage of the temporary relief measures? Why would I use a private lender such as Brazos?

Keep in mind, if you have a mix of federally owned and privately owned loans, a federal consolidation loan will not allow you to consolidate your privately owned loans. The Brazos Refinance Loan allows you to consolidate almost all student loan types, federally owned and private, into one convenient loan and one payment.

If I decide to wait to refinance all or some of my loans in light of the temporary relief measures, can’t I just refinance once those measures are no longer in place and get the same low rate on a Brazos Refinance Loan?

It is hard to predict what interest rates will look like in six months. Given the financial impact of COVID-19 across the county and other factors, such as the availability of capital, the interest rates available today may not be the interest rates available in the coming months. While we strive to offer the best rate to Texans that are available in the market, it is possible that our rates could increase over the next few months. Thus, if you wait to refinance until the temporary relief measures expire, you may be doing so at a higher interest rate.

If I decide to take out a Brazos Refinance Loan now, but my financial situation changes due to COVID-19 and I am unable to make payments, can’t I get payments suspended just like the federally owned loans?

No. As explained above, the temporary relief measures are only applicable to federally owned loans. Brazos has approved a special Disaster Forbearance for COVID-19 that would be available to you if you experience hardship as a result of COVID-19. This special Disaster Forbearance provides for a 3 month forbearance period. Please note that interest will continue to accrue during this time. You can request this special Disaster Forbearance by phone with Firstmark once your loan is funded. If at the end of this special Disaster Forbearance, you are still experiencing financial hardship, Firstmark will be in the best position to advise you of any other repayment/forbearance options that may be available to you.

Considering a Brazos Parent Loan?

Brazos Parent Loans

In response to COVID-19, the federal government has put in place temporary relief measures for borrowers who have federally owned student loans. Further, disaster forbearances are being allowed for existing FFELP and private loans, held by private lenders, such as Brazos.

Do the temporary relief measures apply if I am taking out a new loan?

Yes. If you are looking, in the immediate future, for a parent loan to help your child attend college, the following temporary relief measures do apply to a new Federal Direct Parent Loan once it is originated and in repayment and will be in place until September 30, 2020:

  • Payments will be suspended (meaning no payments are due)
  • Interest will not accrue

During the suspension period, your federally owned loans will be noted as paid as agreed with the credit reporting agencies. By statute, your federal loan services must provide you notices relating to these measures.

For additional information, see Coronavirus and Forbearance Info for Students, Borrowers, and Parents at the Federal Student Aid website.

What about origination fees? Is the government still charging origination fees for a new Federal Direct Parent Loan?

The origination fee will still be charged on Federal Direct Parent Loans. There is no origination fee on a Brazos Parent Loan.

If I decide to take out a Brazos Parent Loan, but my financial situation changes and I am unable to make payments due to COVID-19, can’t I just have you suspend my payments just like with the federal loans?

No. As explained above, the temporary relief measures are only applicable to federally owned loans. Brazos has approved a special Disaster Forbearance for COVID-19 that would be available to you if you experience hardship as a result of COVID-19. This special Disaster Forbearance provides for a 3 month forbearance period. Please note that interest will continue to accrue during this time. You can request this special Disaster Forbearance by phone with Firstmark once your loan is funded. At the end of the special Disaster Forbearance, you are still experiencing financial hardship, Firstmark will be in the best position to advise you of any other repayment/forbearance options that may be available to you.

Already Have a Loan with a Brazos Managed Company?

You may have heard about the temporary relief measures put in place for federally owned student loans that provide relief from payments and interest during these trying times. These relief measures do not apply to your FFELP or Private Loans held by private lenders, such as those held by a Brazos Managed Company. Please continue reading for information regarding your existing loans:

Why don’t I get the interest waiver and suspension of payments being given to borrowers with loans owned by the federal government if my loans are owned by a private lender?

The measures put in place by the CARES Act were put in place for federally owned loans only. Because the loans are owned by the federal government, the federal government can decide to give up payments and interest for a period of time and have the means to subsidize the money they are giving up, such as with taxpayer dollars. Private Lenders do not have the same means by which to subsidize incoming payments and interest and rely on that income, in many instances, for maintaining their operations and staff. [As well many student loans are pledged in the markets to bond holders who must be paid. Defaults in the many large securities backed by student loan assets would have a significant negative impact in the financial markets.] As such, private lenders don’t have the same flexibility in changing the financial return on student loans or on suspending payments as does the federal government.

As a result of COVID-19, I cannot go to work or have lost my job and cannot make payments on my student loans. Are you saying there is nothing available to help me?

The Brazos Managed Companies have approved a special Disaster Forbearance for borrowers who are having trouble making their student loan payments as a result of this crisis. This special Disaster Forbearance can be requested verbally through your student loan servicer and will provide you with a three month forbearance of payments (meaning you don’t make payments for three months). Interest will continue to accrue during the forbearance period.

Is this Disaster Forbearance being automatically applied?

No, you must call your existing student loan servicer to request the Disaster Forbearance.

How do I contact my existing student loan servicer?

The Brazos Managed Companies use four of the major student loan servicers to service loans. Below is a list of the servicers, including their websites and telephone numbers.

AES-PHEAA
1-800-233-0557

Firstmark
1-888-538-7378

Navient/SLMA
1-888-272-5543

Nelnet
1-888-486-4722

How do I know who my servicer is?

There are a number of ways you can find the loan servicer for your loan(s): 1. Check your monthly billing statement – your billing statement comes from your loan servicer and will contain all relevant contact information. 2. For federal loans, the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) is a tool that can be used to find out what federal loans you have. NSLDS will also identify your loan servicer for each of your loan(s). Visit the NSLDS website or call at 1-800-FED-AID. 3. You also can always call us at 1-800-375-9208 and we will do our best to help you identify your loan servicer.

What if I am delinquent now, can I still use the Disaster Forbearance?

If you are delinquent, in order to assist you even further, the servicers have been given discretion to use an Administrative Forbearance to bring your account current and then apply the Disaster Forbearance.

I really don’t think three months is going to be enough, are there any other options available if I need more?

All of our loan programs offer the Disaster Forbearance; however, beyond that, every loan program has varying repayment and forbearance options available. Your student loan servicer, as the entity that manages your loans day to day, is in the best position to discuss other options you may have available, if any. Please contact your servicer if you continue to experience financial hardship.

What if I don’t need all three months of the Disaster Forbearance?

You can always call and cancel the forbearance and ask to be placed back in to repayment.

What if my loans are at a collection agency and I am on a payment plan?

You can call the collection agency handling your loans and request the same Disaster Forbearance described above.

If my loans are at a collection agency, will I be getting collection calls and taken to litigation?

At this time, we have directed our collection agencies, in most cases, to cease all litigation activities at least for the next 90 days. Our collection agencies have also been directed to move to a “soft” collection approach at this time, with sensitivity to the hardships brought on by COVID-19.