You live in Chicago and have a problem with your student loans.
Maybe you're in student loan default. Perhaps 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 with student loan issues no matter what kind of loan they have.
I help with both private loans and federal 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
- explore repayment options
- file student loan bankruptcy
- qualify for student loan forgiveness programs
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 Chicago.
So if Navient files a lawsuit against you in Cook County, I can't help you. The same is true if you live in other parts of Illinois.
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 student 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
- 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.
But, depending on your credit score and your current income, you may not be able to refinance.
If refinancing isn't an option, your only other option may be negotiating a student loan settlement. You have to default before you can start settlement negotiations.
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.
Student Loan Forgiveness: Illinois
- Illinois SmartBuy: offers first-time homebuyers up to $40 thousand in student loan debt relief if they buy a home in Illinois.
- Illinois Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program: teachers who work in low-income schools can get an additional $5 thousand in student loan relief on top of any loan forgiveness they get from the federal government's Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program.
- John R. Justice Student Loan Repayment Program: public defenders and prosecutors can get $4 thousand annually up to $60 thousand to repay FFELP and Direct Loans.
- Nurse Educator Loan Repayment Program: awards nurse educators up to $5,000 to repay their student loan debt. It can be received for up to a maximum of four years.
- Veterans' Home Nurse Loan Repayment Program: offers physicians, certified nurse practitioners, registered professional nurses, certified nursing assistants, and licensed practical nurses up to $5,000 to repay their student loan debt. It can be received for up to a maximum of four years.
- Public Interest Attorney Loan Repayment Program: law school students who will work in qualifying public interest work after graduation can get up to $6,000 per year, up to a career maximum of $30,000 in qualified loan forgiveness to pay towards their student loans.
Illinois residents also qualify for federal student loan forgiveness programs like:
- The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program
- IDR Plan Forgiveness
- Teacher Loan Forgiveness
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 debtors, filing personal bankruptcy may be the best option to deal with their loans.
Bankruptcy may be a good option for you if:
- you can't afford a student loan settlement
- you have a student loan judgment or
- 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 an Illinois 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 credit card debt, medical bills, etc., without paying 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 student loan debt because:
- you cannot repay your student loan debt due to undue hardship;
- your education debt does not meet the requirements for bankruptcy protection (e.g., unpaid tuition)
Click here to schedule an initial consultation.
How to prove undue hardship
Bankruptcy judges in Illinois use the Brunner Test to determine whether you have an undue hardship.
The Brunner Test is a test from a 1980s bankruptcy case, Brunner v. New York State Higher Education.
The test asks three questions:
- whether you have a current inability to repay your student loans while maintaining a minimal standard of living;
- whether that inability will persist for the foreseeable future; and
- whether you made a good faith effort to repay your educational debt.
If the answers are yes to each question, then you're entitled to a student loan discharge.
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.
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
Want guidance from a student loan lawyer? Let's talk
It can be challenging trying to an attorney who can help with your unique student loan circumstances. For years, I've helped people just like you get lower monthly payments from their student loan servicer, qualify for loan forgiveness, negotiate settlements.
Schedule a free 10-minute call with me today. We'll work together to determine the best strategy to deal with your student loans.