As the cost of tuition has continued to grow, students have had to borrow more from private and federally backed student loans lenders in order to complete a college degree. And when those education loans enter repayment after a student leaves school, graduates often find they are unable to pay the amount required by their lender, or to keep up with payments due to unemployment, underemployment, or simply not earning the salary they expected for their chosen profession.
Many borrowers long out of school and deep into their careers are also frustrated by the fact they can never seem to make progress in paying off their student loans. Interest accrued on the funds they borrowed many years ago can add a decade or more of extra payments before a borrower is able to satisfy the debt, and pay off total amount they owe.
If you have student loans debt, consumer protection laws require that lenders and student loan servicers treat you in a fair and equitable manner, and offer repayment terms based on your ability to pay off the amount owed in a reasonable period of time. However the reality is that many lenders and loan servicers use a variety of tactics to avoid these responsibilities, and to extend the life of a loan to the point that a borrower may continue paying more and much longer than expected, even into his or her senior years.
Considering these circumstances, it’s no surprise that student loan default rates are skyrocketing. If you can’t make your full loan payment, or if your loan account is not current according to your lender or loan servicer, you may already be experiencing some of the consequences of student loan default:
- Debt collection letters and phone calls
- Negative credit reporting, lowering your credit score
- Wage garnishment
- Bank account and asset seizure
- Social security garnishment
- Judgments and lawsuits
Borrowers overwhelmed by student loans debt are often surprised to learn they may cannot seek relief through bankruptcy, as in most circumstances this type of debt will not be discharged under current bankruptcy law. There are other options for dealing with student loan delinquency and default however, and we are here to help.
If you are unable to pay your student loans, or already in default, you don’t have to deal with the situation alone. Our legal team will help you resolve your student loan issues, and work directly with your lender or loan servicer to negotiate a forbearance, deferment, or a payment plan that you can afford, restoring your loan account to good standing.
The J. Gannon Helstowski Law Firm can help you manage student loan debt by offering a variety of services tailored to your specific needs. Each student loan situation is different, but with the right support you can resolve your outstanding debt and better understand how to maintain good standing with your lender for the life of your loan.
Education – Our student loan experts will guide you through the process of resolving your debt by providing the tools and training you need to address the situation with your lender. Our one-to-one loan counseling will help you better understand how to deal with your student debt, including:
- Your legal obligations based on the type of student loans you may have, including federal subsidized and unsubsidized loans, parent and student PLUS loans, consolidation loans, and private loans
- How different repayment plans you may be eligible for will impact the size of your monthly payment, and the length of time you have to pay back the loan
- Eligibility guidelines for loan forbearance, deferral, and forgiveness programs, and how to clearly present the facts of your your financial situation to your lender
- How lenders and loan servicers define student loan default, and what they are obligated to do under the law to help you bring your account current
- The most common lender and loan servicer debt collection practices, and how to fight back against unfair or illegal actions taken against you
Negotiation – If you find you’re getting nowhere in dealing with your debt on your own, our legal team will step in and contact your lender directly, taking the burden off of you and putting it back where it belongs: with the lender or loan servicer who is obligated to provide payment options that will help you bring your account current.
We will negotiate a plan to restore your student loans account to good standing, and help resolve any issues with your lender that have led to default. As part of this process, we will make sure that:
- You are enrolled in the best payment plan for which you are eligible, based on the size of your loan debt and your current financial situation
- You have the most accurate information from your lender or loan servicer concerning the amount you actually owe vs. the amount of interest you will pay over the life of your loan, so you’ll know exactly how long it will take to pay off the debt
- You have a concrete plan in place to avoid defaulting on the loan in the future, with a clear understanding of the lender or loan servicer’s terms under the new agreement and strategies to deal with any unexpected circumstances that may arise
Legal action – If you are making a good-faith effort to resolve your student loan issues but your lender or loan servicer continues to escalate its debt collection efforts, legal action may be necessary.
Filing a lawsuit should be the last resort, but could be appropriate if you have experienced any of the following in the course of trying to negotiate more favorable payment terms or restore your account to good standing after default:
- Your lender or loan servicer has not provided you with information on deferment, forbearance, income-based repayment plans or loan forgiveness programs, or assessed your eligibility for these or other forms of borrower assistance
- Your lender or loan servicer has refused to negotiate new loan repayment terms despite the fact you have complied with all requests for documentation and followed all guidelines provided
- A lender, loan servicer or third-party collection agency has engaged in abusive or harassing debt collection practices in violation of consumer protection law
- A lender, loan servicer, or third-party collection agency has provided inaccurate information about your student loan debt and loan payments to credit reporting agencies, or will not correct inaccurate student loan information found on your credit report
- A lender, loan servicer, or third-party collection agency has Illegally shared your personal information with parties who do not have the right to it under the Federal Education Rights Protection Act (FERPA)
- Your legal rights as a borrower have been otherwise violated under standards set by the U.S. Department of Education
Our legal team will hold lenders, loan servicers, and third-party debt collectors accountable for any unfair or illegal actions they have taken against you. We will fight for your right to fair treatment, reasonable loan terms, and a payment you can afford.
When you hire the J. Gannon Helstowski Law Firm for Student Loans:
An attorney and paralegal will be assigned to your student loans case. Work will begin immediately and we will keep you informed of our progress. We do not waste time with form letters hoping a creditor responds. We will contact your student loan lender or loan servicer directly, and begin negotiating favorable terms that will restore your student loan account to good standing.
The lender, loan servicer and/or third-party debt collector will no longer contact you. Once you hire an attorney, the law states that creditors and their debt collectors must speak and deal only with your attorney. This means those annoying collection phone calls will end, and no more threatening letters will be sent to your home or business.
If you have garnishments or liens, we will quickly address them. If your student loan lender or loan servicer has filed a wage garnishment or bank account lien against you, we will immediately begin working to have it released. We will negotiate with the lender or loan servicer on your behalf to resolve the situation as soon as possible.
We will help you create an effective hardship letter. Our legal team will work with you to create a hardship letter that documents the reasons why your lender or loan servicer should consider your personal circumstances, allowing you to enter forbearance, deferment, a new payment plan or a loan forgiveness program that will help you return your account to good standing. A good hardship letter gives details of a job loss, divorce, medical issues, or other events out of the ordinary that inhibit your ability to pay the full amount due.
We will make sure your credit report accurately reflects you student loan debt and payment status. Once the loan default is resolved, we will make sure that your lender or loan servicer has accurately reported the loan details to credit-reporting bureaus, and corrected any inaccurate loan information that appears in your credit report.
Your rights will be protected. If we discover that your lender, loan servicer, or a third-party debt collector has taken actions against you that violate consumer protection laws, we will use every legal means required to address the situation. We can even file a lawsuit on your behalf if necessary.