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Harrisburg, Pa. -- A new partnership between the state and a student loan advisory service plans to provide free student loan help to all Pennsylvania residents during the COVID-19 crisis.

On June 30, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced a new partnership with Summer, a student loan advisory services that specializes in enrolling borrowers into federal and state loan assistance programs to minimize debt loads.

Summer is a certified B Corporation that uses a team of student loan experts and tools to help borrowers find, compare, and enroll in loan assistance and forgiveness programs. Pennsylvanians can access Summer's digital platform free of charge to get customized loan savings recommendations by clicking here.

The U.S. federal government has taken the step of pausing payments on Federal Direct loans, but borrowers are still required to make payments on private loans and commercially-held FFEL and Perkins loans that were excluded from CARES Act loan freezes.

“My office is dedicated to doing everything we can to reduce the immense burden that student debt places on Pennsylvanians. This partnership is a critical step to help thousands of borrowers in need. We are proud to partner with an organization that has their best interest at heart to save real money today and over the long term,” said Attorney General Shapiro

The partnership is directed to all borrowers, but especially those who have been financially impacted by COVID-19. Borrowers who have filed for unemployment or have had hours cut due to COVID-19 can use Summer to enroll in savings and forgiveness programs that can reduce loan payments based on a status of financial hardship.

Those who have experienced a significant reduction in income may be eligible for payments as low as $0 by enrolling in a federal Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) Plan. The average borrower pays about $300 per month on student loans, and an IDR plan may lead to an annual savings of $3,600.

Summer's specialized program operates similarly to online tax software to help Pennsylvanians check eligibility for IDR plans, and helps those who are eligible navigate the application process.

“In these challenging times, we know every dollar counts for critical needs such as food and medical supplies,” said Will Sealy, CEO of Summer. “With our digital platform and team of student loan experts, we’re working to ensure borrowers have a clear plan for managing their debt and reducing their stress.”

Pennsylvania is the third state to launch a partnership with Summer, joining Rhode Island and Connecticut as part of the $84 Billion Project, which represents the total amount of student debt owed by U.S. borrowers that has not been frozen by the CARES Act.

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