If you’re struggling to make ends meet while also paying off your student loan debt, you’re not alone. According to Forbes, more than 44 million borrowers owe $1.5 trillion in student loans. Of these borrowers, 10.7 percent are either in default or delinquent by 90 days or more. The burden of debt can be overwhelming, and student loans can leave you with a sense of hopelessness. You borrowed the funds as an investment in your future, but you may not be reaching the financial success you expected. With help from our Arkansas student loan debt relief lawyers, it’s possible to gain control over your financial situation and move forward.
At The Law Group of Northwest Arkansas PLLC, our team understands that there are many reasons borrowers can’t pay back student debt. Regardless of why you’re facing challenges with student loans, we can advise you about your potential options. To schedule a free consultation of your case with a Fayetteville bankruptcy attorney, call (479) 316-3760, or reach out through the online form.
General Rules Regarding Student Loans
Student loans are intended to support you financially while you’re in school, providing funds to cover tuition, supplies, living expenses, and related educational costs. There are two types of student loans:
- Public loans that you procure through government agencies; and
- Private student loans that you obtain through a bank, lender, or other financial institution.
As with most loan arrangements, you’ll owe interest on the money you borrow. You’ll also accrue late fees and other penalties for late or missed payments. You could be classified as delinquent after a certain period, or your loan may go into default if you fail to make the proper payments.
Once you reach this point, it can be difficult to get out from under your student loan debt. If you do pay, a large portion will be applied to accruing interest and late fees. Your principal balance will remain unchanged until you chip away at these costs, which could take years or even decades.
Student Loans and Bankruptcy
There’s a common misconception that you can never discharge student loan debt through bankruptcy. The truth is that it’s possible, though there are some challenges. You must be able to show that carrying the student loan debt will impose “undue hardship” upon you and your dependents, which requires you to prove:
- You cannot maintain a standard of living that’s reasonably minimal, based upon your income and expenses;
- The factors behind your inability to pay your loans will continue to exist for some time, at least for a considerable amount of the repayment period; and
- You’ve previously made good faith efforts to repay your student loan debt.
A hearing on these issues is held separately from bankruptcy proceedings, so a determination on undue hardship is not automatic. Due to the serious nature of bankruptcy, you should work with a lawyer for student loan debt and determine if another strategy may be more suitable.
Options for Student Loan Debt Relief
Though your situation may look grim when you’re carrying extensive student loan debt, you do have non-bankruptcy options that could ease your burden. With different alternatives, you’ll need to review strict eligibility rules and determine the right fit under your circumstances. Our student loan debt relief lawyers can provide advice on which arrangements may be suitable for your specific needs, but some options include:
Through refinancing, you can replace your existing school debt by taking out a new loan with a lower interest rate. Both public and private student loans are eligible, but you’ll be working with a private lender going forward. You’ll need a good credit score and steady income to qualify, as you’re essentially obtaining a personal line of credit. However, you may have a co-signer on the refinanced loan to make up for a less-than-stellar rating.
You may qualify for repayment options, which can extend the period of paying your student loan up to 25 additional years. Student loan repayment won’t save you money in the long-term, as you’ll be paying interest during the extension. However, your monthly payments will be lower, which can help your current situation. The income-driven repayment plan allows you to make payments based upon your income, rather than over a number of years. Eligibility for repayment plans will depend upon the type of loan, its status, your family size, and other relevant factors.
If you don’t qualify for student loan repayment because your loan is in default, you can opt to rehabilitate it. Once you do, you may then qualify for a repayment plan. An overview of student loan rehabilitation might include:
- You must pay a total of nine monthly payments for 10 consecutive months;
- Your payment amount is based upon a percentage of your disposable income;
- The 9/10 rule operates to allow one missed payment, while still maintaining your eligibility; and
- Upon completion of the 10-month rehabilitation period, you can apply for a student loan repayment plan, including an income-driven plan.
How Our Student Loan Debt Relief Lawyers Can Help
Options for getting relief from student loan debt may seem straightforward, but there’s much more to the process than filling out forms. Instead of trying to go at it alone, it’s smart to consider consulting with a knowledgeable attorney regarding student loan debt help. A lawyer can provide valuable assistance with:
- Assessing your eligibility for relief;
- Advising you on your options;
- Explaining the impact of various forms of student debt relief;
- Completing required forms and gathering supporting documentation; and
- Representing you in connection with bankruptcy, if you qualify and opt to handle debt through discharge.
Contact The Law Group of Northwest Arkansas PLLC Today
Our student loan debt relief lawyers are dedicated to helping you move on toward an improved financial future. For more information on eligibility and alternatives for easing student loan debt, call The Law Group of Northwest Arkansas PLLC. You can reach our Fayetteville office at (479) 316-3760, or go online to request a free consultation.