Overwhelmed by Student Debt? When to Hire a Student Loan Lawyer

#1 Student loan lawyer

Updated on February 22, 2024

Student loan debt can feel overwhelming and isolating. If you’re facing impossible payments, aggressive debt collectors, or simply don’t know where to turn, a student loan attorney can be a lifeline. They offer personalized advice, fight for your rights, and help you regain control of your financial future.

What Kind of Lawyer Helps With Student Loans?

A lawyer who helps with student loans is typically known as a student loan lawyer or a student debt lawyer. These attorneys specialize in legal issues related to both federal and private student loans.

Here’s how a lawyer can help with student loans:

Legal Advice and Representation

A student loan lawyer can offer legal advice and guidance regarding your rights and options concerning your student loans. This includes understanding the nuances of both federal and private student loans, the differences between them, and the legal implications of actions such as default and delinquency.

Negotiating with Loan Servicers and Lenders

Lawyers can act as your advocate, negotiating with your student loan servicer or lender on your behalf. This can be particularly useful if you’re facing delinquency or default, or if you’re considering filing for bankruptcy as a last resort to manage your student loan debt.

For instance, a client recently worked with my team to negotiate a settlement on their $100,000+ private student loan debt, saving them over $65,000. While results vary from case to case, this outcome demonstrates the potential benefits of working with an experienced student loan attorney

Resolving Disputes and Litigation

If you’re facing a student loan lawsuit, a lawyer can represent you and your cosigner in court. They can also help resolve disputes with loan servicers or debt collection agencies, potentially preventing legal action against you

Assistance with Loan Forgiveness and Discharge Programs

Lawyers can help you navigate the eligibility requirements for various loan forgiveness programs, such as Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) or Teacher Loan Forgiveness, and assist with the application process. They can also advise on the possibility of loan discharge due to disability or other qualifying circumstances.

Just recently, a medical doctor in California struggled for years to gain PSLF credit for her qualifying employment. Despite working for a non-profit hospital, her loan servicer repeatedly denied her applications, citing complex employer eligibility rules.

After being denied more than three times and encountering a frustrating maze of conflicting information, she worked with my team. Leveraging my relationship with the Federal Student Aid Ombudsman, I helped identify the source of the issue and correct her PSLF application. Within weeks, she achieved full loan forgiveness.

Help with Default and Rehabilitation

If your loans are in default, a student loan debt lawyer can help you take action. They’ll explain how to rehabilitate your loans or use programs like Fresh Start to get back on track. This can protect your tax refunds, Social Security benefits, and wages from being seized by the federal government to repay the debt.

Protection from Unfair Practices

Student loan lawyers can protect you from unfair or abusive conduct by debt collectors and other agencies. They can handle credit disputes and ensure that your rights under laws such as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act are upheld.

Cost Considerations

While hiring a student loan lawyer does involve costs, many find that the benefits, including potentially lower payments, settlements, or avoiding more severe legal consequences, outweigh these expenses. Some lawyers may offer a sliding scale based on income or a flat fee for certain services.

To ease the financial burden, I offer the following payment options:

  • Upfront Payment: Pay the entire fee at the start of our work together.

  • Monthly Installments: Spread the cost over a period of up to 12 months.

  • Combination Approach: Choose a down payment amount that works for you, then make monthly payments for the remaining balance.

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How we helped a teacher lower their monthly payments

Can a Lawyer Negotiate Student Loan Debt?

Yes, a lawyer can negotiate student loan debt. Student loan attorneys specialize in providing legal advice, representing borrowers’ interests during negotiations or lawsuits, resolving delinquencies, and protecting borrowers from unfair debt collection practices. They can negotiate settlements for both federal and private student loans, although their strategies and the outcomes can vary significantly between these two types of loans.

Federal vs. Private Student Loans

The negotiation process and potential outcomes differ between federal and private student loans due to their distinct terms, protections, and governing laws.

  • Federal Student Loans: Attorneys can negotiate settlements, but this is less common because the Department of Education has comprehensive programs in place for borrowers in distress, such as income-driven repayment plans and forgiveness programs. Federal loans also offer options like deferment and forbearance for temporary relief from payments. Settlements for federal loans typically occur when loans are in default and might involve paying a portion of the loan balance

  • Private Student Loans: Negotiations for private student loans can be more flexible since these loans are governed by state laws and the terms set by private lenders. Lawyers may negotiate to reduce the loan balance, lower interest rates, or change repayment terms. Settlements often involve paying a lump sum that is less than the total owed amount. Private lenders may be more willing to negotiate when loans are in default or if the borrower demonstrates financial hardship

A student debt lawyer can help navigate the various repayment options for your loans, and negotiate with lenders if you need to change the terms of your agreement or resolve a dispute.

They can also advise you of your legal rights and options if you end up in court.

Related: Can You Negotiate Student Loan Payoff?

When Should You Consider a Student Loan Attorney

Consider hiring a student loan attorney when you face complex legal issues, private student loan challenges, or are overwhelmed by your student loan situation. Specific circumstances that may warrant legal assistance include:

  1. Qualifying you for student loan forgiveness programs like Public Service Loan Forgiveness and the one-time account adjustment.

  2. Enrolling Parent PLUS Loans into the SAVE Plan using the double consolidation loophole to get lower monthly payments.

  3. Dealing with private loans, as they are subject to state laws like statute of limitations and may require specialized knowledge.

  4. Being sued by a lender or facing legal action related to your student loans.

  5. Experiencing harassment from debt collectors or being unsure of your legal rights.

  6. Defaulting on student loans, especially if you’re facing wage garnishment or other consequences.

  7. Your debt is in collections, and you need help negotiating with debt collectors.

  8. Considering filing for bankruptcy, as student loan discharge is rare but possible in certain circumstances.

  9. Suspecting you’ve been defrauded by your college, which may qualify you for loan cancellation

Remember that student loan lawyers are distinct from debt relief agencies, as they provide legal representation and advocacy, while debt relief agencies may offer services you could perform yourself

Finding the Right Student Loan Attorney

Finding the right student loan attorney involves understanding your specific needs and conducting thorough research to ensure you choose a professional who can effectively address your situation. Here are steps and tips to help you find the right student loan attorney:

1. Identify Your Needs

First, clarify why you need a student loan attorney. Common reasons include dealing with private student loans, facing lawsuits from lenders, experiencing harassment from debt collectors, defaulting on loans, needing help with bankruptcy involving student loans, or suspecting fraud by your educational institution.

Related: Where to Find a Student Loan Bankruptcy Attorney

2. Research and Resources

Once you understand your needs, start exploring resources to find a qualified student loan lawyer. Here are some trusted places to begin your search:

  • National Association of Consumer Advocates (NACA): NACA’s directory connects you with attorneys focused on consumer rights, including those specializing in student debt.

  • State Bar Associations: Your state’s bar association website typically offers a directory of licensed attorneys. Search for professionals who have experience in student loan law.

  • Legal Directories: Online directories like Avvo, FindLaw, LegalMatch, and NOLO provide listings and reviews of attorneys, allowing you to compare practices that handle student loan issues.

  • Referrals: Reach out to friends, family, or colleagues who may have worked with a student loan lawyer or know someone facing similar problems. Their recommendations can offer valuable insights.

If your situation is complex, you may want to consider experienced and skilled student loan lawyers who have demonstrated success in this area. Here are some well-regarded options:

And if those don’t work, consider using free resources that the Education Department, Federal Student Aid, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau provide to student loan borrowers.

3. Evaluate Expertise and Experience

  • Look for attorneys who specialize in student loan law and have experience with cases similar to yours.

  • Check their background, including education, years of practice, and areas of specialization.

  • Review client testimonials and peer endorsements on platforms like Avvo or through Google reviews.

You can check out our Google reviews.

4. Consultation and Questions

Many student loan attorneys offer a free or low-cost initial consultation. Use this opportunity to discuss your case and assess whether they understand your needs.

Prepare a list of questions to ask during the consultation, such as their experience with similar cases, their approach to your case, expected outcomes, and their fee structure.

5. Fee Structure and Affordability

  • Understand the attorney’s fee structure. Some work on a flat fee, others on an hourly rate, and some may offer contingency-based fees for certain types of cases. Our team works on a flat fee basis that can be paid in one-payment or over monthly installments.

  • Consider the cost-benefit analysis of hiring an attorney. In some situations, the potential savings or benefits from hiring an attorney can outweigh the costs.

6. Trust Your Instincts

After meeting with potential attorneys, trust your instincts. You should feel confident in their ability to represent you and comfortable with their communication style.

7. Professional Associations

Verify if the attorney is a member of professional associations like the National Association of Consumer Advocates or the American Bar Association, which can indicate a commitment to consumer rights and ethical practice.

Bottom Line

The student loan system can be incredibly overwhelming — even for highly educated people. Many of our clients are other lawyers, doctors, engineers, accountants, teachers, and so on.

If you’re facing struggles with loan repayment, potential lawsuits, harassment, or simply need personalized advice on your options, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. A qualified student loan lawyer can provide clarity, protect your rights, and help you find the best path forward.

You can book a call to go over your legal options and the potential costs involved. While I don’t offer free consultations, I charge a reasonable fee for my initial consultations. This ensures the best use of your time and mine by allowing me to provide a thorough assessment of your case and give you clear, personalized advice.

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How do I fight student loans?

To fight back against student loans, start by disputing any errors with your loan servicer. Consider negotiating better terms directly with your lender or exploring legal options for forgiveness or discharge, especially if your school misled you. A lawyer can help you navigate paperwork, build a strong case, and negotiate for the best possible outcome.

How do I know if I need a student loan attorney?

You might need a student loan attorney for complex issues like lawsuits over debt, significant credit report errors, or rights violations. Also, if facing default, aggressive collections, or navigating loan discharge/forgiveness programs, and for private loan disputes or bankruptcy considerations, legal expertise can guide and protect you.

What are the legal grounds for disputing student loan debt?

The legal grounds for disputing student loan debt include inaccuracies in loan details, issues with loan servicers, and borrower rights under federal law. Borrowers can address disputes through direct communication, utilize legal protections, and seek assistance from consumer protection agencies or legal professionals.

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