You live in Chicago and have a problem with your student loans.
Maybe you're in student loan default. Maybe a debt collector's trying to garnish your wages. Or maybe you want to negotiate a student loan settlement.
You need help from an attorney who has experience working with student loan lenders.
You're in luck. I'm Stanley Tate. I'm a student loan lawyer. And 100% of what my law firm does is to help student loan borrowers.
In this post, you'll learn about:
- Who I can help
- Who I can't help
- Federal student loans
- Private student loans
- Student loan bankruptcy
Who I can help
I help people in Illinois with student loan issues no matter what kind of loan they have.
I help with both private loans and federal student loans.
It doesn't matter the amount of student loan debt you owe.
I've helped people who owe $5 thousand and people who over a half-million dollars in student loans.
Specifically, I help people:
- get out of student loan default
- negotiate student loan settlements
- file student loan bankruptcy
- qualify for student loan forgiveness programs (e.g., Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program)
Click here to schedule a free consultation (10-minute phone call)
Who I can't help
I cannot help you if you're being sued for a private student loan in Illinois.
So if Navient files a lawsuit against you in Cook County, I cannot help you.
I cannot help because I am not licensed to practice law in Illinois's state courts.
I am licensed in Missouri. My law firm's office is in Missouri.
That said, I can help you with your federal student loans no matter where you live. And so long as you're not being sued, I can help you with your private student loans as well.
Federal student loan help
I help borrowers with federal loans:
- get the default status removed from their credit reports
- stop wage garnishment
- enroll in the loan rehabilitation program
- apply for loan consolidation
- qualify for student loan forgiveness programs
- evaluate eligibility for student loan discharge
- complete the income-driven repayment application
- lower monthly payments on Parent Plus Loans
I charge a flat fee for my services.
You can get legal advice from me by scheduling a free 10-minute phone call.
Private student loan help
If your private lender doesn't offer you a lower payment, then look into refinancing.
Depending on your credit score and your current income, you may not be able to refinance.
If refinancing isn't an option, then your only other option may be to negotiate a student loan settlement.
Before you can negotiate a settlement, you have to default on your private loans.
Consequences of private student loan default
Of course, defaulting will hurt your credit score and your cosigner's credit score. And it puts you at risk of one or more private loan lawsuits. (Private lenders usually don't sue right after you default. It usually takes a few years.)
But if successful, you may be able to negotiate a settlement for 40-60% of your loan balance.
The settlement can be for a lump sum, monthly payments, or a lump sum plus monthly payments.
Illinois student loan bankruptcy help
Follow these 4 steps to file student loan bankruptcy:
- Meet with an experienced bankruptcy attorney
- File a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy case
- Get a discharge of your unsecured debts
- File a student loan bankruptcy
1. Meet with an experienced bankruptcy attorney
For some student loan borrowers, filing personal bankruptcy may be the best option to deal with their student loan debt.
Bankruptcy may be a good option for you if:
- you can't afford a student loan settlement
- you have a student loan judgment
- your student loan debt is causing you an undue hardship
You don't have to have other types of debt to file bankruptcy. You can file bankruptcy on just your student loans.
Speak with a bankruptcy lawyer near you to find out more about the bankruptcy process.
2. File a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy case
Most student loan borrowers will file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 bankruptcy case.
A Chapter 7 bankruptcy case is the cheaper option. It's also the faster option.
A Chapter 7 case lasts about 3-4 months.
Most Chapter 7 debtors get rid of their obligations without having to pay back their creditors.
A Chapter 13 case costs about 2-4 times more than a Chapter 7.
It also lasts a lot longer. A Chapter 13 case can last 3 to 5 years.
Plus, you'll have to file a repayment plan showing how you will pay back creditors.
3. Get a discharge of your unsecured debts
Regardless of which bankruptcy case you file, your end goal is the same: get a discharge order.
The discharge order will get rid of most of your debts.
But it will not get rid of recent tax debt, child support, alimony, and student loan debt.
To get rid of your student loan debt, you'll need to file an adversary proceeding.
4. File a student loan bankruptcy
You file a student loan bankruptcy by filing an adversary proceeding complaint.
An adversary proceeding is a lawsuit you file in bankruptcy court.
You are the plaintiff, and your creditor is the defendant.
Check out this sample student loan adversary complaint to see what it looks like.
In the complaint, you'll argue to the bankruptcy judge that you should be able to discharge your education debt because:
- you cannot repay your student loan debt due to undue hardship OR
- your student loan does not meet the requirements for bankruptcy protection.
Click here to schedule an initial consultation.
How to prove undue hardship
Bankruptcy judges in Chicago and Illinois use the Brunner Test to determine whether you have an undue hardship.
The Brunner Test for student loans is a test from a 1980s bankruptcy case, Brunner v. New York State Higher Education.
The test asks three questions:
- Based on your current financial situation, can you maintain a minimal standard of living for you and your dependents while repaying your student loan debt?
- Is your financial situation likely to stay the same for a significant portion of the repayment period of the student loans?
- Have you made a good faith effort to repay your student loans?
Private student loan bankruptcy
The Bankruptcy Code doesn't protect all student loans from discharge.
All student loans made by the federal government (FFEL Loans, Perkins Loans, and Direct Loans) are protected. But some private student loans are not protected from bankruptcy discharge.
For example, you may be able to discharge your student loans from National Collegiate Student Loan Trust or Navient without proving undue hardship.
To do that, you'll need to argue that your private loan is not a qualified education loan.
Basically, a qualified education loan is a loan used to pay qualified higher-education expenses at an eligible institution.
Click here to read How to File Bankruptcy on Private Student Loans