July 23, 2017

FAQ

What type of people hire your law firm for help with their student loans?

We can help:

  • new graduates who just received their first student loan payment notice and need to lower their payments
  • borrowers who are current but struggling, who need a lower monthly payment
  • borrowers who are delinquent, but not yet in default
  • borrowers who are in default and who are facing lawsuits or administrative wage garnishment

Currently, the Department of Education estimates that there are more than 36 million loans pending, but only around 500,000 are taking advantage of the various repayment and restructure plans available.

Are there types of student loans that do not qualify for relief?

We have fewer options with private student loans (i.e. loans not issued or guaranteed by the federal government).   In these cases, we may look at negotiation or bankruptcy options, and we may also pursue damage claims against the collectors for violation of consumer protection laws like the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Do I really need to hire a lawyer to assist me with federal government student loan restructure programs available to me?

The law does not require you to use a lawyer to access these programs.   However, you may discover that it is a good idea to obtain assistance in navigating the various student loan relief programs out there.   You will find that each student loan program has its own set of rules, forms and documentation required.   Other programs have been discontinued and replaced.

For example, many of our clients borrowed funds under the FFEL (Federal Family Education Loan Program).  This program was discontinued in July, 2010, meaning that an FFEL borrower who wants to enter an income based repayment program must consolidate his FFEL into a Direct Loan (William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan), then decide on an IBR (income based repayment) or an ICR (income contingent repayment).

If your loan is a Perkins loan or a PLUS loan, entirely different rules apply and you may or may not qualify for both income based repayment options.

Unfortunately the student loan system is yet another area of the law where Congress has created legislation over the years without any move to create internal consistency.

Can you help me if my loan has already gone into default and my wages are being garnished?

Yes, if you owe on a government issued or guaranteed student loan, you have the right to cure your default.  Usually, when we cure your default we will help you choose a payment plan that calls for payments you can afford and that will shorten the remaining term of your loan.

Can you stop a wage garnishment?

Yes, although you are much better off addressing your delinquency or default prior to the start of a wage garnishment.   In some cases, we may be able to reduce the amount of the garnishment and reclassify the payments as contributions to an income based repayment plan.

I have heard that there are programs out there which can eliminate or greatly reduce my balances.  Is this true?

Yes, there are programs to totally or partially cancel your student loan debt.  For example, public service employees and teachers may qualify for debt elimination if they are approved for specific loan forgiveness programs.  Borrowers who graduated after 2011 can qualify under the PAYE program for a reduction in interest rates and the cancellation of the last five years of payments.

I am currently on loan forbearance or deferment.  Are there better options out there for me?

Yes.  In general, income based repayment plans are preferable to forbearance or deferment because it will shorten the term of your loan and can provide for a zero monthly repayment while you are unemployed or underemployed.

How much does your firm charge for representation?

We do not charge for initial (15 minute) phone consultation.   This is an information gathering session and my paralegal or I can answer big picture questions and determine if your situation is one where we can be of service.

Thereafter, we break our representation down into three components:

  1. analysis of your current student loan debt picture, evaluation of restructuring options, and meeting with you to discuss options and answer your questions – $500
  2. implementation of restructuring or forgiveness options – price depends on services rendered
  3. annual recertification for income based loan repayment programs – begins at $250

 

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Jonathan Ginsberg

Jonathan Ginsberg has served the Atlanta area community as a personal bankruptcy and student loan debt management lawyer for over 25 years. Contact Jonathan for straight answers to difficult debt problems.