Imagine you are a recent twenty-something college graduate, just starting your first job in the “real world.” Your paycheck goes towards rent and a large sum of debt you inherited after graduation – college loans. You are saving what you can, building a small line of credit and accruing paid vacation, slowly but surely.
Then, in an instant, your life changes: you are diagnosed with cancer. Now, you must undergo life-saving treatment and put your life on hold. How will you afford to take time off and pay for everything, especially your hefty student loans?
Each year, this is a real scenario for many of the 70,000 adolescents and young adults (AYA) between 15 and 39 who are diagnosed with cancer in the United States. Until recently, actively undergoing cancer treatment was not a qualifying reason to allow for student loan deferment in the United States. Instead, cancer patients could only request a forbearance which meant interest accrued and compounded the entire time they received life-saving care. Very few options are available when making decisions between life-saving care and personal expenses, until now.
Cancer Community Championing Collaboration & Change
At Family Reach, we believe no patient’s chance of survival should be jeopardized by financial barriers related to a cancer diagnosis. Thankfully, we’re not alone. Two like-minded nonprofits, Critical Mass and The Sam Fund, specifically help young adults who are impacted by the financial burdens of cancer and they have championed student loan deferment for adolescents and young adults.
Due to their efforts, and those of patients, survivors and advocates nationwide, a federal amendment called the Deferment for Active Cancer Treatment Act (HR2976) just passed, changing the lives of AYA patients nationwide. This bill allows individuals diagnosed with cancer to pause payments on public student loans while actively receiving treatment without interest accruing during the deferment period.
Continuing Support for #AYACancer
How this legislation will unfold in 2019 is yet to come and we will keep our community informed on how they can seek loan deferment. At Family Reach, we know that AYA patients are affected by the financial burdens of cancer now. If you or someone you know is struggling, we help provide real solutions to the financial burden of cancer through our Financial Planning, Financial Navigation and Financial Handbook resources.
Congratulations to the cancer community – patients, survivors, advocates and like-minded nonprofits – making a real difference in the lives of #AYACancer patients nationwide.