Not every lawyer you meet can help with student loans. I mean, technically, they can. They can read up on student loan law and understand what the law says. But that doesn't make them an expert. They don't understand student loan practice works in the wild. Who to call. What to say. How to find your student loans. What creative options there are to solve a unique issue.
Basically, if they were a carpenter, the only tool that lawyer would have in their toolbox is a hammer. That's not what you want.
You want a lawyer with a full tool kit.
A lawyer that can give you smart legal advice about all of your options to deal with your student debt.
You want to hire a student loan attorney.
What services does a student loan attorney provide?
Think of a student loan attorney as someone with expert knowledge about options for dealing with student debt rather than someone who goes to court to sue a loan servicer or lender for bad acts. They're more like a student loan consultant than a litigator.
Here's what I mean.
Most often, if you see a lawsuit filed against a school or a servicer, the lawsuit was filed either by a state attorney general or a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping student loan borrowers. Few people can afford to hire a legal team to file those types of cases. They're expensive.
A student loan lawyer, on the other hand, is a professional whose really good at designing a plan to deal with things like:
- getting your student loans out of default
- stopping a wage garnishment
- navigating a difficult debt collector
- negotiating a settlement for both a private loan and federal loan
- lowering your discretionary income to get a lower monthly payment
- qualifying you for loan forgiveness programs
- choosing the best repayment plan
- filing bankruptcy to discharge your student loan debt
In addition to those things, the real service a student debt lawyer provides is peace of mind. I tell each client after you hire me, your job is to sit back and relax while I fix what needs fixing.
When do you need a lawyer for your student loan debt?
There are few times when you need to hire a student loan lawyer.
What I mean is, for the most part, everything I'm going to do for you as your lawyer, you can do yourself. Sure, it may take you longer to solve your student loan problems. You may mess some things up. Your student loan payments may be higher than it should be. You may end up owing more money than you should. But you can handle things on your own.
Typically, there are only two times I strongly urge a borrower to hire an attorney:
- When they're being sued for a defaulted private student loan and
- When they're trying to get an undue hardship discharge of their student loan debt in bankruptcy
You hire me as your lawyer not because you absolutely need to, but because you're tired of going in circles with a student loan servicer about how much credit you've earned towards loan forgiveness or trying to come up with an affordable repayment plan for your private student loans.
You hire me as your lawyer because you want things done right, the first time.
And you want to stop stressing about your student loan debt.
Can a lawyer negotiate student loan debt?
You can hire an attorney to negotiate your student loan debt.
Before you hire someone, here's what you need to know.
First, your loans have to be in default/delinquent before you can settle. You can not settle a student loan in good standing.
With a federal student loan, you're in default after you go more than 270 days without making your student loan payments.
With private student loans, you're typically in default/delinquent after you go more than 180 days without making your student loan payment.
Second, no attorney can guarantee a result. All we can do is say here is a result I got for this borrower in the past, and here's a result I got for this borrower.
Does that mean you'll get the same result? No. Every student loan borrower has a unique situation. And each lender has different requirements.
But with enough experience in negotiating settlements with the same companies, an attorney can reasonably predict what a likely settlement will be given your unique facts.
I do this all the time for clients before they hire me.
I want you to understand what the settlement process will look like from start to finish that way we're both on the same page.
Click here to read more about How to Negotiate Settlements for Student Loan Debt.
Can a lawyer get rid of a student loan in bankruptcy?
Short answer: Yes. A lawyer can get rid of a federal student loan or your private student loans in bankruptcy.
The much longer answer is that getting a discharge of your student debt isn't guaranteed. That decision is for a bankruptcy judge to decide.
Let's talk if you're thinking about filing a chapter 7 bankruptcy or chapter 13 bankruptcy or if you've already filed and now want to get rid of your student debt.
I've helped more than one client either get a discharge of their student debt or negotiate a great settlement.
Click here to read more about How to Discharge Student Loan Debt in Bankruptcy.
What is the cost of hiring a student loan lawyer?
There's no universal price for hiring a student loan lawyer. Each attorney, each law firm is its own business with its own fee structure.
From best I can tell, my fees are not the cheapest. But they're not the most expensive either.
Here's how I price things:
I want to charge you enough where I don't hate working for you because I feel like I'm not getting paid enough for all the work I'm doing. And I want to charge you a price that's low enough where you don't hate that you're paying me money to do something you could do yourself.
Basically, I'm trying to make sure you and I think it makes sense to work together.
So you know, I charge all clients a flat fee. You can pay that fee in a lump sum or over 6 months.
How to find student loan help near you
Finding an attorney near you that offers student loan help can be challenging. There are a few attorneys that are even aware this is an area of practice.
So I tell you what. Rather than waste a bunch of time searching on Google for a student loan near you, contact me. Let me know what's going on with your student loans. If I can help you from here in St Louis, I will. And if I can't, I'll try to connect you with an attorney closer to you.