How to Find a Student Loan Debt Settlement Attorney

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Updated on January 12, 2023

A student loan lawyer can help you negotiate a lump sum settlement for private and federal student loans in default.

You’re not alone if you feel overwhelmed by your student loan debt — especially if you’ve made payments for years and owe more than you borrowed. A lawyer can help get you some relief by negotiating a settlement to pay off your federal and private student loans — but only if you’re in default. Until then, your student loan servicer will not accept a lump sum payment to erase any of the outstanding interest or principal balance.

Ahead, learn how to find a student loan debt settlement attorney.

Related: How Private Student Loan Debt Settlement Works

How do I find a student loan settlement attorney?

You can start by turning to the internet. To look for a lawyer who can help negotiate a settlement on your private or federal loans, you can start by typing “student loan debt attorney” into Google. You will likely find a few dozen law firms advertising their services.

Read each website with a critical eye, checking to see what type of cases the firm or lawyer handles. Do they focus only on helping student loan borrowers, or does their law office provide debt relief for different types of loans and consumer debts like medical bills and credit card debt?

I’ve also compiled a list of attorneys who have a proven track record striking deals with the Department of Education, private lenders, and debt collectors. You can always start here before you turn to Google.

  • Stanley Tate – I help people across the globe settle federal and private student loan debt, navigate repayment, get out of student loan default, and prove undue hardship in student loan bankruptcy cases. I have experience negotiating settlements with the federal government and private student loan lenders like Navient, Sallie Mae, and National Collegiate Student Loan Trust. Licensed in Missouri. Schedule a free 10-minute call to find out if a settlement is right for you.

  • Jay Fleischman – As a host of The Student Loan Show, Jay provides borrowers with free help to better understand their rights. He also has a law practice focused on helping people find a way out of their student debt. Offers free consultations. Licensed in California and New York.

  • Josh Cohen – For the last several years, Josh has helped educate student loan borrowers and lawyers on the world of education debt. In his law practice, Josh offers legal advice to people who are looking to lower student loan payments, evaluate eligibility for federal student loan forgiveness programs, and challenge information that harms their credit scores. Licensed in Connecticut and Vermont.

  • Adam Minsky – Aside from sharing student loan updates as a senior contributor on Forbes, Adam is a lawyer who has helped borrowers navigate tricky student loan issues for the past decade. Licensed in Massachusetts and New York.

Learn More: Can I Negotiate Student Loan Debt?

What should I expect from my student loan settlement lawyer?

Your lawyer should be able to estimate how much they can help reduce your loan balance, depending on if the loan is federal or private. Typically, the biggest savings come from settling a private student loan that has a high balance and poor payment history.

They should also outline the risks in negotiating settlements. You have to default on your loans to negotiate a settlement, which means you have to miss monthly payments. Your account can’t be in repayment or paused due to a deferment or forbearance.

When you default on student loans, you and your cosigner will see your credit scores drop. You’ll also both be at risk of being sued by the creditor, which exposes you to the risk of wage garnishment or a lien on your home.

Learn More: What Happens if You Default on Private Student Loans?

Questions to ask during a consultation

Some student loan debt attorneys will provide free consultations. Use this as an opportunity to find a lawyer that you’re comfortable with. Here are some questions that you can ask to help evaluate them.

How many student loan settlements do you negotiate each year? Ideally, you’ll want to hire someone who regularly negotiates payoffs for student debt. The more cases they settle each year, the better idea they should have of what a reasonable discount would be and what type of repayment plans the creditor will accept (i.e., lump-sum payments, monthly payments, or a combination of the two).

Can you provide me with some case studies of past settlements? Ask your lawyer to share some examples of settlements they’ve negotiated in the past. This can give you an idea of what’s possible and what you might expect.

Have you worked with my lender previously? Although prior experience with a debt collection agency or lender isn’t necessary, it’s helpful. Each company has its own guidelines for settling student loan debt. Knowing those guidelines can give you a leg up.

What are the risks involved with settling? Your lawyer should be upfront about the risks involved in pursuing a student loan settlement, including wage garnishment and credit report damage.

Who’s going to handle my case? Given the amount of debt at stake, I don’t recommend having a paralegal be your primary point of contact. Your lawyer should work closely with you from the beginning and know the ins and outs of your financial situation.

What’s your fee structure? Many attorneys are willing to work with you to set up a payment plan to pay their fees. However, some may require full payment before they file your case.

Cost of hiring a student loan settlement lawyer

The fee a lawyer charges to negotiate student loan debt can vary a lot. There is no average, but there are some common types of fee structures.

Hourly rate: It’s just like it sounds! The lawyer charges an hourly fee for every hour spent working for you. The upside is that you’re only charged for the time the lawyer spends creating and working on your case. The downside is that you won’t know exactly how long it will take, which can cause you to pay more than you expected.

Flat Fee: In a flat-fee model, your lawyer charges a set amount of money for the service. Unlike hourly rate arrangements, the flat fee ensures that you know exactly how much you’re going to pay before the case begins. The flat fee can be paid in a lump sum or in installments under a monthly payment plan.

Contingency: The contingency payment moves the financial risk to the lawyer — they get paid only if they achieve the desired result (e.g., bankruptcy discharge or settlement).

Hybrid: A hybrid payment structure typically involves an initial flat fee made at the beginning of the case and then a contingent fee due only if the lawyer discharges your debt.

Bottom Line

Few attorneys have significant experience negotiating student loan settlements. You can spend hours on Google, ask for referrals, and still fall short in your search.

If you’d like help from a skilled student loan attorney, schedule a free 10-minute phone call with me. During our conversation, I’ll ask questions to get an initial idea of how much a settlement can save you.

UP NEXT: Yrefy Student Loan Refinancing Options for Loans in Default

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