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Important Message from Iowa Student Loan, and Its Subsidiary Aspire Resources Inc. d/b/a Aspire Servicing Center, About Ongoing Support and COVID-19


Updates

April 2, 2020

All Iowa Student Loan/Aspire Resources Inc. Services Still Available

Iowa Student Loan and its wholly owned subsidiary Aspire Resources Inc., d/b/a Aspire Servicing Center, have implemented a pandemic plan that supports our business continuity preparations. Our staff remains fully functional to provide assistance, whether related to the national health emergency or other ongoing business concerns, to borrowers and our clients and partners.

The majority of our employees are working remotely to help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. These employees use our secure Virtual Private Network and have been trained to ensure they adhere to our policies governing information security when working off site. We limit the number of employees who need to be on site to process mail or payments or otherwise use facilities to no more than 10 at a time. Alternatives for these functions have been secured in case of a need to shut down our buildings completely.

Assistance Available for Impacted Borrowers

The federal government provided limited education funding relief as part of the national Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. However, this relief applies to federally held student loans. We exclusively service private student loans and privately held Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program loans, which are not eligible for the recently approved federal relief.

However, we have implemented assistance options and other relief measures that help our borrowers who are impacted by the national health emergency. A self-service option for requesting assistance and current information about our response is available to borrowers on our servicing website, www.AspireServicingCenter.com. A notice has also been included for applicants and borrowers on the home page of www.IowaStudentLoan.org. Additionally, our phone system provides borrowers who choose to contact us by telephone special messaging and options for those impacted by the COVID-19 emergency.

Options for Borrowers with Federally Guaranteed Loans Owned by Iowa Student Loan

Government-guaranteed loans (sometimes referred to as FFELP loans) have federal government-approved assistance available to borrowers, including hardship and disaster forbearances, though the recently enacted six-month deferment and interest waiver does not apply to borrowers of these loans. We are limited in any additional assistance we can provide by the U.S. Department of Education and the loan guarantors, who define what can be done while still maintaining the loan guaranties and who take ownership of the loans when the borrowers default.

We are supporting efforts that have asked the U.S. Department of Education and the guarantors to provide more assistance to FFELP borrowers, whether through administrative action or congressional action if necessary.

New Assistance for Private Student Loan Borrowers

Disaster Forbearance: Impacted borrowers may request to delay required payments for 90 days. Interest accrues but is not added to the loan balance (capitalized) at the end of the forbearance. This assistance is extendable by 30 days if circumstances warrant. This is similar to options available for FFELP borrowers.

Proactive Outreach: We will be proactively reaching out to borrowers who are delinquent to let them know about the assistance we have available for them.

Additionally, we have stopped initiating any new legal action related to defaulted private loans. However, as noted above, we are actively reaching out to these borrowers to make them aware of the assistance we have available.

Unique and Ongoing Assistance Available to Iowa Student Loan Borrowers

Existing Terms: We offer lower-than-market interest rates on private loans when supplemental funds are needed to fill funding gaps.

Available Assistance: We offer graduated repayment plans for borrowers that need lower initial payments. Forbearance is available to borrowers who encounter economic hardship. In addition, we offer special temporary repayment plans for struggling private loan borrowers, wherein we may help with monthly interest charges. Iowa Student Loan does not charge late fees on any of the loans that it owns.

We are committed to supporting our customers and partners during this challenging time. For additional information or assistance, please contact:

  • Jen Hempel, Compliance Director for regulatory questions.
  • Your school and lender liaison for college financial aid and lender questions.

March 20, 2020

We want to update you on additional actions taken in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Following our business continuity plan, all borrowers and partners have had uninterrupted services and we continue to remain fully functional.

The following actions have been taken to transition most employees to remote work locations (i.e., their home):

  • Employees working remotely are using our secure Virtual Private Network, and those employees needing hardware have been provided with surplus company monitors, hard drives, keyboards and mice. In addition, employees have had refresher training to ensure they adhere to our policies governing information security when working off-site.
  • As of March 19, employees in at-high-risk categories and all employees in our customer service units were all working remotely. This has drastically reduced the number of employees working in our offices.
  • Beginning the week of March 23, the only employees working from our offices will be those involved in the processing of mail, payments or other equipment-dependent functions. We have secured alternatives for these functions if it becomes necessary to entirely shut down our buildings.

While employees remain in the office, we have put these additional preventative measures in place to ensure employees' safety.

  • We have stepped up communications to employees to provide, at minimum, daily updates on business plans and to provide extra reminders of hygiene steps to avoid contracting the virus. Conference rooms are closed and we have removed tables and seating from our break rooms. Hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies have been placed throughout our buildings. On a weekly basis, our contracted janitorial service is conducting special deep cleaning using disinfectants.
  • Visitors are no longer permitted in our building. A health screening interview takes place for any required vendors, such as HVAC technicians, before they may enter our building.
  • All internal and external business meetings are now taking place via teleconferencing.

We continue to provide our customers with updates when significant changes happen that may impact them on our websites: www.IowaStudentLoan.org and www.AspireServicingCenter.com. We are also drawing special attention to assistance options available to borrowers impacted by COVID-19.

We are committed to supporting you and our customers during this challenging time. For additional information or assistance, please contact:

  • Jen Hempel, Compliance Director for regulatory questions.
  • Your school and lender liaison for college financial aid and lender questions.

March 16, 2020

We want to take a moment to assure you that, during this unprecedented health emergency, we are completely committed to supporting our borrowers and partners with uninterrupted services. This means we plan to continue:

  • Providing our and your private student loan programs to college students and families who need additional funding as well as borrowers looking to refinance their college debt.
  • Routing important loan data information for our lenders, colleges and universities through iLink, ScholarNet and ELM to ensure loan funds are distributed as needed.
  • Servicing our borrowers' student loan accounts in the same manner and with the same level of care and expertise they have come to expect from us. This includes providing assistance to borrowers who may struggle with payments due to interrupted work and potentially significantly decreased income.
  • Offering support to our business partners in the College Finance Benefits program.

Like you, we are adapting our plans as quickly as possible to respond rapidly to this developing situation. Currently:

  • Our goal is to have our office remain fully functional.
  • We have made plans to put the health and safety of our employees first in all decisions. Many of our employees will work remotely during this period, but will be available to you and your customers during regular business hours.
  • Our senior management team and lender and school liaisons will continue to provide you with information and suggestions as needed regarding extended disruptions to everyday life that impact college financing.
  • Our compliance specialists will monitor and implement any developments and directives from the federal and state governments regarding student loan repayment.
  • We plan to continue closely monitoring the situation. We will make business and safety decisions during this time with both your business needs and our employees' health in mind.

We are committed to supporting you and your customers and students during this challenging time with the same great service you have become accustomed to. Helping students, schools, lenders and our partners succeed when it comes to paying for college with outstanding service remains our goal as we move forward.

We hope you stay well. If you have any questions or concerns, please call or email us.

Steven W. McCullough
President and CEO