Having your student loan debt hanging over your head for years doesn't feel great. It's hurting your credit score, making it difficult for you to buy a home, and it's affecting your relationship. If you're tired of dealing with your student loan debt alone, consider getting help from a student loan lawyer.
Use this guide to learn what student loan issues a student loan attorney can help you solve.
What is a student loan lawyer?
A student loan lawyer is an attorney with advanced knowledge of student loan law, which includes the law for federal student loans, private student loans, and, occasionally, bankruptcy. They are uniquely situated to give legal advice on complex student loan problems. They understand how the student loan process works, what rights borrowers have and can provide sound legal options to move forward.
What does a student loan lawyer do?
Quite simply, a student loan lawyer solves student loan problems. They work with the U.S. Department of Education, student loan servicers like Navient, private lenders, etc. to:
- Stop collection activity: federal law allows the federal government to send wage garnishment orders and take your tax refund and Social Security Benefits without a court order. The COVID-19/Coronavirus forbearance has temporarily suspended collection activities through September 2021.
- Negotiate settlements: student loan lenders are often willing to negotiate settlements on federal and private student loans. But only after the borrower defaults.
- Defend student loan lawsuits: miss enough student loan payments and your loans will be sent to debt collectors. Ignore those debt collectors long enough, eventually, you'll receive a summons ordering you to appear in court to defend a student loan lawsuit.
- Ensure the eligibility for loan forgiveness programs: thousands of public service workers (teachers, corrections officers, etc.) were denied student loan forgiveness because they didn't meet the technical criteria of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF). A student loan lawyer can review your loans and develop a strategy to maximize your eligibility for loan forgiveness.
- Review loans for fraud: consumer protection laws provide student loan borrowers with certain rights that can lead to debt relief in the way of discharge or loan cancellation.
- Lower monthly payments: forbearance and deferment are temporary. At some point, they'll end and you'll need help getting an affordable repayment plan.
- File student loan bankruptcy: when consolidation, refinancing, etc. aren't enough to fix your student loan issues, filing a bankruptcy case may be your only option. While filing student loan bankruptcy won't automatically get rid of your loans, a skilled student loan lawyer can leverage bankruptcy laws to not only provide you relief but also discharge your loans in an adversary proceeding by proving undue hardship.
Do I need to hire a student loan lawyer? You don't need to hire a student loan lawyer. You can try to work with your loan holder, loan servicer, debt collection agency, etc. yourself. You hire a lawyer because you want a student loan expert to put you in the best possible position and you want to avoid the stress of solving the problem yourself.
When should you hire a student loan lawyer? You should hire a student loan lawyer when you want someone you know is on your side and will put your goals and interest first. Also, if the thought of dealing with your student debt — parsing through your repayment options, negotiating settlements, etc. — overwhelms you, hiring a lawyer to protect you and put you in the best position could be the best thing for you.
Can a lawyer get my student loans forgiven? A lawyer can review your loans and determine if you can get your loans forgiven based on the school you attended, the type of work you do, whether you have medical issues, etc.
Can a lawyer negotiate student loan debt? A lawyer can negotiate student loan debt. Ideally, you would hire a lawyer who has experience working with the type of loan you have and the creditor who has your loan. Debt relief agencies are also an option, but working with a dedicated attorney may be ideal.
Where to find a student loan lawyer
Finding a lawyer near you that understands student loan law is tough. Sifting through all the law firms on Google that say they do student loans, but really handle consumer law issues or are trying to get you to file bankruptcy, can be challenging. Unfortunately, there's no clear symbol that lets you know someone is a student loan lawyer. Your best option may be to shop around, schedule a handful of free consultations, and see what type of legal advice you get.
Another option is to contact one of the following national agencies to see if they can point you in the right direction for qualified legal help:
- American Bar Association (ABA)
- National Association of Consumer Advocates (NACA)
- National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys (NACBA)
Want help from a student loan lawyer? Let's talk
I help people from San Francisco to New York to Albania to everywhere solve their student loan problems. Schedule a free 10-minute phone call so we discuss your unique and issues and figure out the best way strategy to fix your federal loans and private loans for good.