Student Loan Debt

Overwhelmed by Student Loans?

If you've fallen behind on your student loan debt or are just struggling to keep up your payments, it can feel like you're trapped for life. Student loan debtors may not have the same options as people who have fallen behind on credit card debt or have large medical bills or other types of unsecured debt. But, there may still be solutions for you.

Depending on the type of student loan that you are carrying, what you do for a living, where you went to school, your income, and other factors, you may have options to lower your loan balance, cut your payments, or even have your loans canceled.

One significant factor in determining your options for student loan debt is whether your loans are federal / federally guaranteed or what is commonly described as “private” student loans.

Private Student Loans

Private lenders whose loans aren’t federally guaranteed don’t have the same super-collection powers that the federal government does. They also have greater flexibility in making compromises to get debt settled, much like any other private lender. That means an experienced debt resolution attorney may be able to negotiate a settlement for you. That may mean a lump-sum payoff for less than the full balance due, or reduced payments–your attorney will work to negotiate a settlement that works for you.

Private student loans aren’t always subject to the same stringent standards for bankruptcy discharge that federal and federally backed loans are. However, determining whether some or all of your private student loans may be dischargeable in bankruptcy can be complicated, and is best addressed with an experienced bankruptcy attorney.

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Federal Student Loans

Federal student loans, as you likely know, are generally not dischargeable in bankruptcy. And, your loan servicer has options not available to most creditors–most notably, the ability to intercept your federal tax refund. That’s a daunting combination. Many people whose federal student loans are in default or who have been juggling to try to keep up payments feel they have no options.

One reason for that sense of powerlessness is the difficulty of navigating the student loan system. In theory, there are loan forgiveness programs for public service workers. There are income-based repayment plans that may have monthly plans as low as zero, depending on your income. There are cancellation options for people who attended certain schools, and hardship discharge processes both in bankruptcy and outside the bankruptcy courts.

But, finding the right option for you can be complicated. For example, many people whose careers would qualify them for loan forgiveness after 10 years of payments aren’t getting credit toward that milestone because they unknowingly signed up for the wrong repayment plan.

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Talk to a Student Loan Lawyer

If your student loans are unmanageable, it’s worth your while to consult an experienced student loan attorney. Whether your loans are in default or just a burden you can’t keep carrying, whether they’re private or federal, accurate information and effective representation can be your most powerful tools.

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