7 On Your Side: Financial help for college students amid coronavirus pandemic

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- There are more than 45 million parents or students carrying more than a trillion dollars in student loans.

The coronavirus pandemic has presented a whole new set of challenges -- especially since many students have lost their part time jobs.

Here's some financial solutions to help with debt and more.

"I have to depend on my parents again, and it's really hard because I've been financially independent from them," said Rider University sophomore Alyssa Unciano, who lost her retail job when COVID-19 closed her store. "It's been really stressful. I have no income, and I'm not qualified for the stimulus check."

But Unciano was smart, and she applied for and was approved for unemployment insurance right away. She's getting $250 a week, and $75 of that goes to the interest only on her two private student loans.

She's also tried to appeal to her private lender to defer loan payments for up to six months.

"I would suggest calling them and establishing a relationship with the lender or loan servicer to work through whatever hardships you are dealing with," said Charlie Javice, CEO and founder of WithFrank.org.

Normally, Javice helps parents get the most financial aid. But her expertise is expanding to include ways parents and college students can save during the pandemic.

First, Javice says many private lenders may have disaster or emergency forbearance programs that can put a short-term pause on payments.

"Based on your situation, so if you're unemployed of you're going through a hardship, if you have a death or illness," she said.

It's a different story if you have a public or government student loan. The CARES Act allows you to stop paying on most public/government student loans until September 30.

The payment pause is automatic, so you don't need to fill out any applications or forms, but you'll need to know whether your loan qualifies. So Javice counsels student loan recipients to call their loan company/servicer to make sure you're eligible.

Also, another possible debt reliever is to refinance or consolidate your student loans. Rates have come down, and a refinance could save you additional bucks.

And more good news, as internet providers like Verizon, Comcast/Infiniti, and Spectrum are offering discounts or free internet to students and others.

And if you're having trouble affording the rent, don't hesitate to ask your landlord for an accommodation.

"Please be proactive about reaching out to landlords and see what they can do about a reduction or a rent deferment," Javice said.

And remember, in New York, eviction proceedings have been temporarily suspended.

As for refunds from your college or university, check with your school.

Schools are already issuing refunds for housing, dining and parking, and a representative for Rutgers said students should be getting refunds now until May 1. Students should also ask about tuition reimbursement, which Rutgers is offering on a "course by course" basis.

Links:

--Student relief programs available

--Should you refinance your loan?

Private loan companies offering possible payment deferment/forbearance:

--Sallie Mae

--Wells Fargo

--Discover

--SunTrust

Free or discounted internet service:

--Xfiniti

--Verizon

--Spectrum

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