There is lots of information on the Internet (including on this site) offering solutions that can help you afford your student loans. Read enough of it, and you could very well become your own expert.
If you are a confident “do-it-yourselfer,” you might be wondering whether you even need a lawyer to handle your situation for you. My answer in any legal situation is: you can certainly do it yourself, but you are better off with an attorney. Here’s why with student loans.
Why a Lawyer is Better
The best answer I can give is that a lawyer is able to give you your best range of options for a wide variety of problems that can present themselves in connection with your loans. This is because:
- The U.S. Department of Education has many different programs for repayment, discharge, and forgiveness, and it can be difficult to know which one is right for you.
- A student loan lawyer who also practices bankruptcy can offer you solutions in that area as well, helping you to know whether you meet the “undue hardship” standard for discharge of the loans.
- You might have private loans, and the Internet is rather silent about how to deal with those outside of bankruptcy. If a private bank is, or might be, coming after you with a lawsuit, a lawyer would know what to do to defend you. There might be weaknesses in their case that you do not know about, and what you don’t know can hurt you a lot!
- A lawyer would know whether a collector for the student loan lender is violating the law in trying to collect from you. You might have the grounds for a lawsuit against the debt collector and not even know it!
What About a Student Loan Counselor?
You could also retain the services of a student loan counselor to help you through the process. I am not saying that this is a bad idea, but you should certainly ask a few questions before hiring them:
- What is their range of services? Do they look into all of your options or just handle loan consolidations?
- Do they handle all kinds of student loans or just federal ones?
- Will they help you get out of default?
- Do they assist with administrative discharge of loans or income based repayment plans?
Finally, student loan counselors are not lawyers, so they cannot give you legal advice. Although there may be ways in which they can help you, there are some things that they just can’t do.
Worried About the Cost?
If cost is a factor, consider that fees for a student loan lawyer are usually pretty reasonable when compared to the benefit that you receive. What if their fee is less than what they can save you on a monthly payment (or you regain the fee after a couple months at the lower payment)?
What is their fee compared to the wage garnishment you could be facing after default on the loans or the default penalty that is 18.5% of the loan balance?
So What Do I Do?
Student loan issues are seldom straightforward; they are more often complex and multifaceted, requiring an experienced person to untangle and analyze it for you. If you are looking for more information, check out my free book, I Graduated; Now What? A Guide to Dealing With Your Student Loans.
But if you need help, and you live here in southern New Jersey, please call my Woodbury, Gloucester County office at 856-432-4113 or contact me through this site. I would be happy to schedule an appointment for you to come in, look at your situation, and discuss the possible solutions.