New web platform provides guidance and savings
DES MOINES ― Attorney General Tom Miller announced a partnership today with social enterprise Summer to assist Iowa’s student loan borrowers in securing relief in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Summer, a certified B Corp, gives student loan borrowers guidance to save on and simplify their student loan repayment. Summer’s technology tools and team of student loan experts help borrowers find, compare, and enroll in loan assistance and forgiveness programs.
Iowans can now access Summer’s digital platform free of charge to receive customized loan savings recommendations at www.meetsummer.org/IA/
Despite the recent extension of the CARES Act through the end of the year, millions of borrowers remain unsure whether their loans are eligible for the payment suspension and interest waiver. Across the country, as many as 24 million borrowers with private student loans and commercially held FFEL and Perkins federal loans are still required to make monthly loan payments.
“This partnership is a new step in our efforts to educate student loan borrowers of their rights and avoid predatory practices,” Miller said.
Iowa has one of the nation’s strongest laws protecting borrowers against “student loan rescue” companies. Senate File 272, which was proposed by Miller’s office, was passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Kim Reynolds this year. It requires debt-management companies to obtain a license from the Iowa Division of Banking and provide disclosures and other protections for borrowers.
The average debt carried by new college graduates in Iowa has been rising. In 2014, the average undergraduate borrower left college owing $23,379, and by 2018 that number was $25,421 — a 9 percent increase in four years.
“Student debt was already a concern before the pandemic,” Iowa College Aid Executive Director Mark Wiederspan said. “The most powerful tool we can offer to borrowers is clear information about their repayment options.”
For instance, a fixed repayment plan is the default for federal student loans, but it might not be the best plan for everyone. Borrowers who have experienced a significant reduction in income could be eligible for a monthly payment as low as $0 by enrolling in a federal Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) plan. With the average borrower in the U.S. paying approximately $300 a month on student loans, an IDR plan can result in an annual savings of $3,600 — three times the amount of the $1,200 CARES Act stimulus checks.
Similar to online tax software, Summer’s digital platform can help Iowans check their eligibility across IDR plans and facilitates the entire application process if the borrower qualifies. In addition, Summer helps students identify loan forgiveness programs and track their progress toward meeting the requirements to qualify.
"With unemployment still at record high levels, borrowers need all the help they can get to manage the burden of student loan repayment,” said Will Sealy, Summer’s co-founder and CEO.
“We’re proud to team up with AG Miller, Iowa College Aid and the state of Iowa to help thousands of Iowans navigate the complex repayment process, ensuring borrowers don’t miss important payments they were unaware of and that they’re properly enrolled in assistance programs that can provide them with much-needed financial relief during this difficult time,” Sealy said.
Iowa joins Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Connecticut as part of Summer’s COVID-19 relief initiative, The $84 Billion Project, which represents the total amount of student debt still owed by U.S. borrowers across the United States in 2020 that hasn’t already been paused by the CARES Act.
To file a complaint
Summer is a student loan advisory service that specializes in enrolling borrowers into federal and state loan assistance programs to minimize their debt load. Summer’s digital platform is supplemented by a dedicated team of student loan experts that ensure each borrower receives the best possible guidance to become debt free. Summer is partnered with hundreds of employers, associations, and institutions to provide its financial wellness tools and resources to more than 3 million borrowers.
Summer was founded in 2017 by Will Sealy, a former student loan policy expert at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), along with Paul Joo and Vincent Tran, and its first partnership was with Yale University. Based in New York, Summer is a mission-driven Public Benefit Corporation and is a certified B Corporation.