A significant number of Americans have trouble repaying their student loans. While federal student loans come with different alternatives for relief, this is not the case with most private student loans.

The average that borrowers between 25 to 49 years of age owe toward student loans is over $35,000. With the economy not going great guns, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is fair to assume that several student loan holders can do with some help.

Where Things Stand

Consider these statistics surrounding the existing situation of the student loan market in the U.S.

  • Student debt in the U.S. stands at around $1.6 trillion.
  • Of this, around $125 million is in default.
  • At any point, around 15% of student loans are in default.
  • The average student loan repayment is close to $400 per month.
  • Around nine million borrowers are affected by defaulting on student loans.

COVID-19 Relief

In March 2020, upon passing of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), Federal Student Aid started providing temporary relief on Department of Education (ED)-owned federal student loans. The relief came in the form of:

  • Suspension of loan payments
  • No collection activity on loans in default
  • 0% interest

Since then, the government has extended these relief measures on multiple occasions. As of now, the measures will remain in place at least till Sept. 30, 2021. In addition, the relief has also been extended to student loans in default received through the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program.

Do You Need Legal Help?

It is normal to feel intimated if you default on your student loan. Fortunately, if you’ve take a federal loan, you may seek relief in different ways. However, things may get complicated if you have a private loan. In most instances, dealing with student loan debt does not require hiring an attorney. For instance, you can apply for a loan forgiveness program or seek discharge for a federal student loan online, on your own.

There are some situations in which you might benefit by seeking guidance from an attorney who specializes in student loans. An example in this case is if the provider of your student loan is taking you to court because of your default.

When Might You Need an Attorney?

Whether or not you need legal help with your student loan depends on the specifics of your case. Here are a few scenarios in which you might benefit by contacting an attorney.

  • If you are very worried about your student loan situation and need professional advice
  • If you need legal representation because a lender is suing you
  • If a debt collection agency is harassing you
  • If you need more information about your legal rights surrounding loan forgiveness or repayment plans

Resolving Disputes

If you are in disagreement with your student loan provider about the status or balance of your loan, you may seek resolution in different ways.

  • Contact your lender. Simply talking with your lender might help clear the air in case of clerical errors. If that doesn’t work, you should consider seeking validation of your debt. This puts the onus of verifying details of your debt in a timely manner on the lender or the collection agency.
  • Contact the FSA Ombudsman Group. If you’re unable to resolve the dispute by contacting your lender, getting in touch with the Federal Student Aid (FSA) Ombudsman Group might work well for you. The group helps resolve disputes surrounding federal student aid informally.

Conclusion

If you find yourself at the receiving end of unrelenting collection calls, or if you feel daunted by your existing student loan debt and are unsure about what to do next, getting in touch with an attorney who has the required knowhow about student loans might be in your best interest. Know that most student loan-related problems are typically easy to resolve, provided you know what steps to follow.