It’s a scary time for millions of Americans right now. Much of eastern Texas has been declared a disaster area following Hurricane Harvey. Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have been declared disaster areas as well following Hurricane Irma, and the southeastern U.S. (especially Florida) may be next. The last thing anyone in those areas is thinking about right now is student debt. But what happens to your student loans when a disaster strikes?Read More
For most types of private student loans, the only way that the lenders can forcibly collect from borrowers is to file a lawsuit in court. That’s because most private student loan lenders do not have the same collections powers as the federal government – they generally cannot garnish wages, put a lien on a home, or seize any assets without first obtaining a court judgment. That judgment then gives the lender additional powers to pursue the borrower if he or she doesn’t start paying.
So you would think that all private lenders sue defaulted student loan borrowers, right? Well, that’s not necessarily true. In New York and Massachusetts (where I practice), let’s just say that some student loan lenders are more litigious than others. The following is based on my own personal anecdotal experiences representing student loan borrowers – it is not scientific, and it is by no means representative of national trends. And if your student loan lender isn’t on this list, it doesn’t mean you can’t or won’t be sued. But, perhaps my observations below can be insightful.Read More
If you default on your federal student loans, the consequences can be pretty severe, but it’s generally unlikely that you will be sued. That’s because the federal government has enormously powerful tools to pursue defaulted federal student loan borrowers without the need for a court order. Federal lenders and debt collectors can garnish wages, intercept federal tax refunds, offset Social Security benefits, and seize federal income streams – all without stepping foot in a courtroom. While the feds do sue borrowers in some cases, especially when a borrower is not otherwise “reachable” through its normal collection methods, it’s not particularly common (at least in Massachusetts and New York, where I practice).
But private student loans are another story. Private student loan lenders do not have the same powers as the federal government. They generally cannot do anything to you without obtaining a court judgment first – and that requires that they file a lawsuit against you. But suing you is only the first step in the process.
Facing a private student loan lawsuit can be overwhelming and terrifying. If you find yourself being sued, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself.Read More
We all know student loan servicing is a mess, and it has been for a long time. The federal government spends hundreds of millions of dollars on private companies to handle student loan accounts, but these companies have been the subject of widespread complaints and major lawsuits due to misconduct and poor outcomes.
The Obama administration had begun to take steps to reign in bad student loan servicing conduct, but Betsy DeVos – the Secretary of the Dept. of Education appointed by Donald Trump – has begun to roll back these initiatives. Specifically, she rescinded Obama-era guidance that would take into account borrower outcomes and customer satisfaction when awarding federal servicing contracts to student loan companies. She also appeared to pull the plug on an attempt to simplify and centralize student loan management through a single web portal, which would have effectively allowed borrowers to bypass their student loan servicer.
It’s an uncertain and frustrating time for student loan borrowers. However, there are steps you can take to protect yourself from servicing errors and misconduct. While these steps are of course no guarantee that you’ll avoid problems managing your student loans, they may help.Read More
Many federal student loans are eligible for income-driven repayment – a type of student loan repayment program that uses a formula to create a uniquely-tailored monthly payment for borrowers based on their income and family size. For most of these plans, borrowers can enroll for up to 20 or 25 years (depending on the specific plan), at which point any remaining balance gets forgiven. This repayment period can be reduced through programs like the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.
There are currently four major income-driven repayment plans, each with their own unique programmatic requirements and quirks: there’s Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR), Income-Based Repayment (IBR), Pay As You Earn (PAYE), and Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE). Each plan uses a different formula for calculating monthly payments; but some of the plans also have unique characteristics that differentiate them even further from each other.Read More
I’m running a seminar in Boston on March 28, 2017 with a local financial planner and real estate agent on managing student loan debt while planning for home ownership. The event is FREE, but space is limited. Check it out, and sign up to attend!
Student loan payments have taken a toll on the lifestyles of college graduates for years. Even when working full time, it’s challenging to afford your monthly payments and still have a life.
With the average class of 2016 graduate coming out of school with over $37,000 in student loan debt, how is anyone supposed to be able to enjoy themselves?
A “forbearance” allows student loan borrowers to temporarily postpone payments on their student loans. It’s a great – and important – option available to people who cannot afford their regular monthly payments, because it allows you to stay in good standing on your student loan and avoid default. But forbearance is not without its consequences, and when used improperly, it can cause major problems.Read More
Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season. For better of for worse, it’s the time of year for New Year’s resolutions. We’re all going to exercise more, eat better, and call our long-distance relatives more frequently, right? (Well, for at least a month or two).
But financial New Year’s resolutions can be just as valuable as the more “cliché” promises we are used to hearing in the beginning of January. And I encourage everyone to consider some student loan resolutions to help manage your student loan debt more effectively. Here’s my list of some student loan New Year’s resolutions that I hope you will consider.Read More
The following is a guest article by Jon M. Luskin, a fee-only CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM (CFP®) at Define Financial.
If you’re spending less money than you make, give yourself a pat on the back for being frugal! But, how are you going to handle that extra cash: pay off your student loan debt, or invest?
Why would anyone with a student loan balance invest in the stock market? Because you’re hoping that the investment return will be greater than the interest rate on your student loan.
Investment Return > Student Loan Interest Rate
Notice that the keyword is “hope.” Will your investment return actually be greater than your student loan interest rate? Maybe. It depends. On what? A few things. Read on to find out! Read More
This month, I’m wrapping up two cases that involved major federal student loan consolidation errors by the U.S. Dept. of Education and an assortment of student loan guaranty agencies, servicers, and debt collectors. These errors were massive, complex, and entirely not the borrower’s fault. They also took months of effort and coordination to resolve. I am ecstatic that we obtained good outcomes for my clients and got the errors fixed, but unfortunately these problems are not exactly uncommon. It really shouldn’t be this difficult for student loan borrowers, but sometimes, it is.
If you’re thinking about consolidating your federal student loans through the federal Direct consolidation program, there are potentially many benefits: streamlined repayment (one combined loan, one servicer, one monthly bill); simplified interest (if you are converting variable-rate loans to the fixed, weighted-average interest rate provided by the Direct consolidation program); default resolution if you are including defaulted federal student loans in the consolidation; and conversion to the Direct loan program through which you can access some additional student loan forgiveness and repayment programs.
But when things go wrong – especially due to mistakes outside of your control – it can be a mess to untangle. Here are some things to watch out for.Read More