Student loans becoming too burdensome? You might want to lawyer up! A student loan lawyer can review your debt and determine your eligibility for loan forgiveness programs, help lower your monthly payments, negotiate a settlement, and assess your chances of proving undue hardship in bankruptcy.
A student debt lawyer is an attorney with significant experience working with federal and private student loans. They are experts in the solutions that are available if you’re struggling to manage your student debt. These might include income-driven repayment, deferment, forbearance, loan forgiveness, bankruptcy, settlement, and so on. They also may be able to defend you in court if you’re being sued for student loan debt.
You may not need to hire a lawyer to help you with your student loans — you can work with your loan servicer or a debt relief company. Remember that your loan servicer will work in their own best interest, and debt relief companies are designed to profit from your misfortune — and often have predatory practices in the way they do this. There are unique advantages that an attorney brings to the table: after all, they are a trained professional who has a duty to provide you with honest, accurate legal advice that may be precisely what you need.
Ahead, learn more about what you can gain if you hire a lawyer to help with your student loans and find a list of the seven best attorneys who specialize in student debt.
Student loan lawyers: What they do
A student loan lawyer evaluates your federal and private loans and then provides legal advice to help resolve the issue you’re facing. They can help you:
- Qualify for forgiveness. Since President Biden took office, the Department of Education has wiped out nearly $20 billion in student loan debt by improving existing student loan forgiveness programs. For example, it erased the debt of thousands of full-time government and nonprofit employees who were locked out of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program because they had the wrong type of loan. The department also recently promised to give millions of borrowers credit towards income-driven repayment plan forgiveness — regardless if they were ever enrolled in an IDR plan.
- Get out of default. Federal student loan borrowers can use consolidation or loan rehabilitation to return their loans to good standing. The right choice for you depends on your financial goals, whether you have an active wage garnishment, or are trying to buy a home and need to clear CAVIRS to get a federally-backed mortgage.
- Negotiate a settlement. It’s possible to settle federal and private student loans once you fall behind on payments and default. A lawyer experienced in working with student loan servicers and debt collectors can help you negotiate a lump-sum settlement that saves you thousands of dollars and avoid paying taxes on settled debt. Read more about can a lawyer negotiate student loan debt.
- Lower monthly payments. The Education Department offers several student loan repayment plans that help give borrowers affordable monthly payments. But the eligibility requirements for the plans can be confusing, especially if you’re married, retired, self-employed, or are worried about qualifying for loan forgiveness.
- Defending a student loan lawsuit. Private student loan lenders regularly sue the borrower and cosigner in state court to recover money owed for defaulted student loans.
Besides those things, some student loan attorneys can even help you get rid of your loans in bankruptcy by proving undue hardship. Read more about bankruptcy and student loans.
Learn More: How to Get Rid of Student Loan Debt
Do you need a student loan attorney?
Many people don’t need to hire an attorney to fix the student loan issue they’re facing. You can try to dig yourself out of the mess you’re in by working with the loan servicer or creditor — but it’s likely you’ll lose hours researching your options.
But if you just want your student loans fixed quickly with minimal stress, then hiring a lawyer might be right for you.
How much does a student loan lawyer cost?
Hiring an attorney for student loan help can cost you anywhere from $500 to several thousands of dollars, depending on the complexity of your student loan issue. The amount you’ll pay will vary based on the attorney and law firm. Here are common fee structures:
Hourly rate: This one’s just like it sounds. The lawyer charges an hourly fee for every hour spent working for you. The upside is you’re only charged for the time the lawyer spends working on your case. The downside is that you won’t know how long it will take — this 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 you know how much you will pay before the case begins. The flat fee can be paid in a lump sum or installments over a few months.
Contingency: The contingency payment moves the financial risk to the lawyer — they get paid only if they achieve the desired result (i.e., bankruptcy discharge or settlement). This fee structure is standard when the lawyer represents hundreds of people in a class action case against a lender with deep pockets like Navient.
Hybrid: A hybrid payment structure typically involves an initial flat fee made at the beginning and then a contingent fee due only if the lawyer achieves your intended result.
7 Best attorneys specializing in student loans
It’s hard work to find a lawyer for student loans near you. Until a few years ago, student loan law wasn’t even an area of practice attorneys focused on. But this has changed since student debt became such an enormous problem in America.
Here’s a list of the seven best student loan attorneys in the nation:
- Stanley Tate* (based in Kansas City, but I help people no matter where they live)
- Jay Fleischman (California and New York)
- Josh Cohen* (Connecticut and Vermont)
- Adam Minsky (Massachusetts, New York, and Vermont)
- Christie Arkovich* (Florida)
- Latife Neu* (Washington)
- Ed Boltz* (North Carolina)
*Handles bankruptcy cases.
If you’re not able to score a free consultation with an attorney, try contacting the Institute of Student Loan Advisors. TISLA offers student loan borrowers free, neutral, and accurate resources and mentoring to ensure they can successfully manage their debt.
You can also contact the state bar association or a local law school to see if they offer free or low-cost legal assistance.
Looking to hire an attorney to help with your student loans? Let’s talk
If you’re looking for help with your loans or managing your student loan payments, consider contacting one of the student loan attorneys from above or schedule a call with me.