You did it! You went to school and graduated! Or, you didn’t finish your degree. Regardless, you’ll have to deal with your student loans. In the ideal world, you got a job, and made all of the payments for your loans, and everything is good. But, sometimes it takes longer to find a job. Or, you’ve used up all of the deferments or forbearances, and the bill collectors are demanding more money than you can pay.
Don’t ignore the problem—do something ASAP! But what?
For Federal loans—From the US Department of Education, Stafford Loans or Perkins Loans— there are many different programs to apply for to get out of default. For these loans, it’s best to get out of default and get into a repayment program, such as Income Based Repayment plans (IBR or IDR), Pay as you Earn (PAYE) , or Revised Pay as You Earn (REPAYE). There are certain steps to take to get those repayment programs. You can get on track to get the loans forgiven after 20 or 25 years of payments. There is a catch—you have to make every payment on time, EVERY MONTH! As a student loan lawyer, I can help you navigate and get the best program up and running for you.
For Private Loans (everything else!), this is the “wild west” of student loans. This is because, like most other loans, there are very few rules to protect the borrower (you). You could be with Discover, Navient, Sallie Mae (which used to be government run, but isn’t any more). You could be with some state student loan agencies (their own rules apply). It is best to try to work out a loan repayment program with them. But, that is like trying to lower credit card payments. It is very difficult. Many of the private loans I see are not only in default, but they are in “collection mode”. What is collection mode? That means that either the loan has been turned over to a collection agency, or attorneys have already filed a lawsuit! Once a lawsuit is filed, you need to call an attorney. I have been fighting student loan collections. Some loans could be too old, so that the statute of limitations would apply, and the lawsuit would be dismissed altogether. And the collector has to prove the debt to the court. They have to come up with original paperwork, from when you got the loan. That’s a difficult task. There are all sorts of possible outcomes, but you won’t be able to defend these easily, so getting an attorney is the best solution.
If you don’t hire an attorney when the loan is in “Collection Mode”, the loan companies can garnish your wages, take your tax refund, or freeze your bank account. These are things you want to avoid!
The most important thing to remember is to call us now, take action, and don’t ignore the situation. If you ignore it, the situation will be much worse.
For more information on Student Loan law, see StudentLoanLawChicago.com, or call 312-789-9999.
Daniel J. Winter
Offices in Chicago, Gurnee, Oak Lawn, and Skokie, Illinois