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The coronavirus guide to financial aid

A piggy bank sitting on a pile of $20 bills.

If you're one of the many people who has seen their work hours cut due to COVID-19, you may be struggling to manage your finances right now.

There are places you can go for help. Here's what to know about the assistance that may be available to you.

Where the CARES Act stands now

The CARES Act was the stimulus act passed by the federal government in March. CARES stands for Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security.

The act offered:

Most of the provisions of the CARES Act expired at the end of July, but an executive order and other actions from the president extended some of these protections. Another stimulus act is under consideration.

How to handle your mortgage

If you can't pay your mortgage or can only pay a part, contact your mortgage lender. Be patient when calling. Loan servicers are fielding many calls right now.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides counselors you can talk with if you're having trouble paying your mortgage or reverse mortgage loan.

You may also have heard of an option called forbearance. This is when your mortgage loan company lets you pause or decrease your payments for a limited time.  

What to do about student loans

If your student loan is held by the federal government, your payments are postponed with no interest until Dec. 31, 2020.

For other kinds of student loans, contact your loan servicer for options. Find out what else you need to know about student loans and the pandemic.

Seek help with credit card payments

Contact your credit card company. Let them know that you cannot make a payment. You may be able to work out an alternate payment plan.

You might also want to consider working with a credit counselor. Reputable credit-counseling groups are usually nonprofits that can offer help with your money and debts. Some also may help you work with creditors.

However, beware of debt settlement companies that promise to help if you pay a fee upfront.

Apply for unemployment

Are you out of work? You may be able to file for unemployment benefits. Find out what your state can do for you while you're unemployed or furloughed.

The CARES Act allows states to offer unemployment benefits to people who are self-employed or gig workers through the end of 2020.

Beware of scammers

Scammers are always looking for chances to take advantage of others, especially during a crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic is no exception.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau offers information about coronavirus-related scams. You can also find tips for protecting yourself at the Federal Trade Commission.

Reviewed 9/22/2020

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