I am thrilled to announce that my first client got her student loans forgiven through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. It wasn’t necessarily easy, and it wasn’t necessarily quick, and she ultimately needed to request additional relief through a related program called Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness. But, it worked. She now has a $0 balance on her student loans, and she’s even getting refunded for some payments that she made. Incredible! I wrote about her experience in my latest article for Forbes – check it out here. And stay hopeful!
Last week, I got a call on my cell phone. I didn’t recognize the number, but it was from my own area code; I had gotten several of these calls during the prior week or two, but I had not picked up, suspecting it could have been a robo-dialer. But this time, curiosity got the better of me, so I answered.
A pre-recorded message said the following to me: “You are being offered a lower monthly payment and loan forgiveness for your student loans. Due to our numerous attempts to reach you, this offer will be revoked if we don’t hear from you within 48 hours. If we don’t hear from you, you will no longer be eligible for these programs. Please press 2 to be connected to a customer service representative.”
I promptly hung up. This, folks, is a scam, and it’s the latest tactic being employed by predatory student loan “assistance” companies who are trying to prey on student loan borrowers desperate for a solution to their debt. And while I can easily spot these types of schemes as a student loan lawyer, for many other people it’s a lot tougher to discern a scam from a legitimate program.
If you’ve been contacted by a student loan assistance company and you’re not sure whether or not the company is legitimate, here are some things to consider:Read More
Well, it’s the day after Election Day 2018. Analysts and pundits are still trying to figure out what the election results mean nationally. However, today I want to focus specifically on student loan borrowers.
Ballots are still being counted in many precincts, and not all races have been called. But as it stands, it looks like Democrats have retaken the House of Representatives, while Republicans have expanded their Senate majority. Democrats have flipped at least seven state governorships, while Republicans have held on to several others. There was a Democratic wave in many states, but Republicans also generally held their own or exceeded expectations in several key races. So, how does this all add up for student loan borrowers?Read More
For the fourth year in a row, Attorney Adam S. Minsky has been named a Massachusetts Super Lawyer “Rising Star” for his ongoing work helping student loan borrowers. This recognition is only given to the top attorneys in the state, and it reflects Attorney Minsky’s work ethic, expertise, and dedication to helping people who have student loans.
Attorney Minsky has been sharing his expertise with many others this year, and has been invited to speak and conduct workshops across the country. He recently returned from Chicago where he taught hundreds of financial planners about student loan law at the annual Financial Planning Association (FPA) conference, and is scheduled to speak to other financial planners in New York and Wisconsin. And in the past month, Attorney Minsky has given student loan management presentations to employees at the Broad Institute in Cambridge, to AmeriCorps members via the Mass Service Alliance, and to legal services attorneys at the Boston Bar Association.
Attorney Minsky’s name will be published in Boston magazine and Super Lawyers magazine.
When I talk about being a student loan lawyer, most people assume that my clients are all about 22 years old, fresh out college, dealing with crippling student loan debt. That’s actually not true at all. A large number of my clients are older folks who took out a particular type of federal loan called a Parent PLUS loan, for the benefit of their children. And many of them are struggling.Read More
Brace yourselves. Major student loan servicing changes are coming.
First, some quick background. Most federal student loans are either owned directly by the U.S. Department of Education via the “Direct” loan program, or are held by a private lender via the now-defunct “FFEL” program (also known as the “guaranteed” loan program). The vast majority of Direct and FFEL student loans are not handled by the lender, however. Instead, the lenders hire contractors – called student loan “servicers” – to manage the day to day operations of the loan accounts such as payment processing and application evaluation. These servicers generally do not own your student loans, even though you have to deal with them to do anything with your account. They are simply contractors working on behalf of the lender.
The U.S. Department of Education is moving forward with a major overhaul of its student loan servicing system that will transform every aspect of federal student loan repayment – from payment processing, to re-certification for income-driven repayment plans, to requests for deferments and forbearance.Read More
The U.S. Dept. of Education released a report this week on the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program – and the details are rather stunning.
First, some background. To get student loans forgiven under the PSLF program, borrowers must make 120 “qualifying payments,” which are payments that (1) are made on Direct federal student loans, (2) under a qualifying repayment plan – which is either the 10-year Standard plan or an income-driven repayment plan, while (3) working full-time for a qualifying public service employer.
The program was not enacted until October 1, 2007, and it’s not retroactive to before that date. This means that the soonest anyone could have been eligible for loan forgiveness was October 1, 2017. Since so few people knew about the program during the first few years of its existence, not many people have qualified so far. However, nearly 12 months into the “eligibility era” (as I call it), we haven’t had much specific information about the number of people applying.
Until today. Read More
After years of working with student loan borrowers, I can safely say that one of my clients’ biggest fears is that lenders will garnish their wages – seizing money directly from their paychecks. This is particularly troubling for folks who are living paycheck to paycheck. Wage garnishment can represent a very real financial danger.
Is this a legitimate fear? Yes. Student loan wage garnishment can and does happen, all the time. But as with so many issues when it comes to student loan debt, it’s a bit more complicated than just a simple “yes” or “no” answer. A lender’s ability to garnish wages – and a borrower’s rights to limit or stop it – really depend on the type of student loan, its status, and the intersection of federal and state law.Read More
Private student loans and federal student loans don’t have a lot in common, and one of the key differences is the role of cosigners. The vast majority of federal student loans don’t have a cosigner (the exception to that rule are spousal consolidation loans – which haven’t been issued in over a decade – and certain federal PLUS loans in rare circumstances). For private loans, however, cosigners are ubiquitous, and often required.
A lot of my clients over the years have been cosigners, and some of them didn’t fully understand what they were getting into when they agreed to cosign a student loan for their friend or family member. If they had, they could have avoided years of stress and financial trouble. If you’re thinking about cosigning for someone else’s student loan, make sure you understand the potential consequences – before you sign your name on that contract. Read More
There is quite a lot going on right now when it comes to student loans. It seems that every month there’s a new bill or a new rule that could significantly impact student loan borrowers. But keeping track of it all can be a bit overwhelming.
First, a very brief overview of how law-making works. Our legal and political system is multi-layered and may seem complicated, but I’ll break it down for you:
- Legislation – or a proposal for a new law – must be passed by a law-making body like Congress (at the federal level) or a state legislature (at the state level). Congress, and most state legislatures, have two chambers – the House and the Senate – and legislation must pass both chambers, and be signed by the President (or a Governor) to become law.
- Regulations (also simply called rules) can be created by executive agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Education. Agencies have broad powers to issue new rules or regulations under existing statutes, which can dramatically impact programs that were already created by previous legislation. When agencies create new rules or regulations, they have to follow a formal process before they can go into effect, but they do not typically require approval by Congress (or an equivalent state legislature).
So, with the above in mind, here’s my overview of the most important developments during the last few weeks.Read More