Student loan debt affects millions of Americans, causing crippling debt that has become an unfortunate fact of life that has impacted most for decades. What many don’t consider is what happens when other pressing financial concerns present themselves, such as in the case of a cancer diagnosis. The intersection of student loan debt and cancer payments may seem insurmountable at first, but thankfully there are options to help ease these burdens.
The Deferment for Active Cancer Treatment Act is one of the primary ways patients can balance student loan debt and cancer costs, helping them maintain their financial health in order to get back on the path to physical health. Before this legislation was enacted in 2018, the process for having student loan deferred during cancer treatment was uncertain and came with lots of red tape. Lenders typically approved such requests arbitrarily, with little formal protocol in place and, even if payments were temporarily halted, loan holders still accrued interest at the same rate. As many know, student loan interest can significantly add to the overall amount owed, so simply allowing people to stop their monthly payments for a time wasn’t much of a help for cancer patients.
That’s where the Deferment for Active Cancer Treatment Act comes in. The legislation amended the Higher Education Act of 1965 to mandate that lenders must allow those in active cancer treatment to pause their loan payments as well as stop accruing interest during the deferment period. Once the patients are back on their feet, they simply resume their payments just as they had before. The bill was supported by a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers, who recognized this commonsense approach can literally be a lifesaver for patients worrying about how to balance student loan debt and cancer treatment.
Even with insurance, paying for chemotherapy, medication regimens, and other treatments can lead to exorbitant medical costs. When you add on top of that the fact that many patients have to take time off for work or school, as well as arrange for childcare, transportation, and other hidden costs, the obstacles seem impossible — and when student loan debt is factored in, many cancer patients can feel like their finances are just as worrisome as their diagnosis.
With resources like the Deferment for Active Cancer Treatment Act, student loan debt and cancer costs can co-exist, with patients able to invest their money, time and energy where it is most needed — confronting their diagnosis head-on.