“When we are talking about how student loan borrowers are impacted by this crisis, we can’t lose sight of the millions of borrowers with private student loans,” Seth Frotman, former student loan ombudsman at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, told Yahoo Finance. “The private student loan market is overshadowed by the enormous federal student market… [but] in its own right is more than $100 billion.”
Presently there are more than 43 million Americans with $1.5 trillion in student loan debt. Federal loans form $1.3 trillion of that, and as Frotman indicated, a sizable portion of the remainder comprise of private education loans.
Currently, the Education Department has set interest rates to zero for those holding federal student loans and suspended the collection on defaulted loans. Additionally, federal borrowers can apply for penalty-free forbearance for a period of time, as per the department’s guidance.