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WASHINGTON — Students will not have to take standardized tests this year, and interest rates on federally held student loans will be 0% for the next 60 days due to the coronavirus outbreak, President Donald Trump said Friday.
“With many schools closed due to the virus, the Department of Education will not enforce standardized testing requirements, very importantly, for students in elementary through high school for the current year,” Trump said at his daily press briefing on the coronavirus pandemic. “They’ve been through a lot. They’ve been going back and forth, schools open, schools not open…We’re not going to be enforcing that.”
Additionally, the government is waiving all interest on federally held student loans for the next two months, Trump said.
“I’ve instructed them to take that action immediately, and today Secretary [of Education Betsy] DeVos has directed federal lenders to allow borrowers to suspend their student loans and loan payments without penalty for at least the next 60 days.”
That period could be extended if necessary, Trump said, and added that borrowers should contact their lenders about suspending payments if they are interested. The president said there will be additional steps to help students during the pandemic in the coming days.
The White House also announced Friday that it will shut down both the country’s northern and southern borders to people entering the country illegally and that those immigrants and asylum-seekers will be sent back to Canada or Mexico without being detained or processed.
The Department of Education confirmed that it has instructed federal student loan lenders to set interest rates rates at zero and allow people to suspend payments “for at least two months” in a release Friday morning.
“Borrowers will have the option to suspend their payments for at least two months to allow them greater flexibility during the national emergency,” the release said. “This will allow borrowers to temporarily stop their payments without worrying about accruing interest.”
In addition to news about how the government is addressing the pandemic, the daily White House coronavirus briefings have also been an opportunity for an often testy Trump to spar with reporters. When an NBC reporter asked the president Friday, “What do you say to Americans who are scared right now?” while citing the current number of cases in the US, Trump snapped back, “I say that you’re a terrible reporter, that’s what I say.”